Editorial: Life on Mars possible
Travel: Top travel tip #11
Technology: Withings Steel HR Sport
Stationery: Long term test: Full Focus Planner
Gadgets and Gear: Emergency Escape Dog Tag
Books and Writing: What should you read?
Miscellaneous: Schedule less to achieve more
PD: Store

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EDITORIAL: Life on Mars possible

The Europlanet Society has found life in conditions analogous to those on Mars and Europa. On Mars the water has a very high chloride concentration and there is briny water on Europa.


Spain's Laguna de Peña Huecain in La Mancha has very high concentrations of salt and sulphur. Scientists have now discovered microorganisms living in that water, the alga Dunaliella salina EP-1, giving it a pink hue.


Of course this does not prove that there is life on Mars and Europa; it merely shows that life is possible in those environments.

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TRAVEL: Top travel tip #11

Always carry a small compass on you, even in a city. If you are in an unfamiliar place, particularly one that is not designed on a grid pattern, a compass will help you to orientate your map correctly. Even if there are landmarks, it may still be difficult to work out which way is "up" on the map.

[Above: Edinburgh]

There is a variety of small compasses available, including ones that fit on your watch strap or on a key ring.

[Above: NATO survival compass]

Buy a good quality compass that you can rely on and that will last a lifetime.

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TECHNOLOGY: Withings Steel HR Sport

When French company Withings released its Activité activity tracking watch in 2014 it won a lot of awards for its clean minimalist design - it had a dial that told you how close you were to achieving that day's goal. It was controlled through a smart phone.

[Above: Withings Activité]

Withings has now released a new activity tracking watch with many more functions, the Steel HR Sport.


The watch features heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, connected GPS and a Fitness Level assessment via VO2 Max estimation.


It also has alerts for your cell phone's calls, texts, email, calendar, plus notifications from apps.

The watch is water resistant up to 50m and has a long-life battery of up to 25 days.

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STATIONERY: Long term test: Full Focus Planner

The Full Focus Planner was featured in PD: Cool Things issue 179 (GHOST_URL/prowling-dog-cool-things-issue-179/).


This is the second planner in PD's long term "road test". You can read the full description by following the above link, however there is nothing like using something long term to have a real feel for a product.

The full focus planner has the elements that you need. At the front are goal planning pages. These are split into achievement and habit goals, with a page devoted to each goal. Although there are plenty of sheets PD suggests only setting two or three goals unless your goals are small - see Miscellaneous below.


Between a week's worth of daily pages there are review pages and weekly planning pages. These are useful to reflect on any changes that you may need to make. Breaking down goals into weekly and daily tasks helps you to stay on track to achieve your goals.

The daily pages are undated however they list the day of the week. If you have a day off from your goals, you will have to leave a blank page. For people with good self-discipline this may seem wasteful however for others it will help encourage them to keep going.


The daily pages are well laid out. On the left side there are boxes for the daily big three tasks and other tasks. Again, when filling these in, take heed of PD's comments in Miscellaneous below.

Next to these there is a daily schedule column with times allocated. In this section you can fill in appointments and then work out when you will work on your goals. The vertical orientation helps you to visualise your day.

On the right hand side there is plenty of room for freehand notes. You can jot down ideas here.

The layout works well and so far is the best of the ones that PD has tried in the past. The planner is cloth bound yet weighs very little. One gripe is that the binding does not allow the book to open flat without pressure, something that is not desirable. This is important when you want to write in it.

PD rating: 4.5 paws out of 5 (the half mark is deducted because the book will not open flat).

Note: The Full Focus Planner has been updated since PD's test. The photographs above are from the original one that PD used. Below is the new version:


Other sections have also been updated and there is now a Daily Rituals section.

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GADGETS AND GEAR: Emergency Escape Dog Tag

Grim Workshop tools have been featured several times in PD: Cool Things because they are discrete and of good quality, being made of surgical grade stainless steel. Despite having a wide range of tools for all sorts of situations, from social to survival, the workshop regularly puts out new ones, its most recent being the Emergency Escape Dog Tag.


This dog tag is designed to assist you in getting out of most restraints. It includes a handcuff key, shim, saw and file. Its size make it easily concealable. The tools are re-usable.

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BOOKS AND WRITING: What should you read?

This is not a bucket list of titles. Those kinds of lists may be useful if you do not quite know what to read, however they are based on one person's likes which may be different to yours.

PD's general advice is to find several areas of interest or you would like to learn more about and mix your reading from those areas. Having a broad range of interests will not only spice up your life, it will bring a wider range of things to bring into conversations.


Browse at your local bookstore. You never know what you will find, and if you buy something you will help bricks and mortar stores to stay open. PD disapproves of people browsing in bookstores to find something that they want and then go home to buy it on line. This is not only unkind to the bookseller, it will eventually force bookshops to close down, and in PD's opinion that would be a real loss to the community.

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MISCELLANEOUS: Schedule less to achieve more

When creating your "to do" list it is tempting to make it too long; after all, we have so much to do. Chances are that at the end of the day you will do only part of the things on that list, and they may not be the most important ones.

[Above: Seeso The Daily Times]

Schedule only a small number of things to do, making sure that those things will make a difference in the future. All other things are just "busy work" that distract you from doing what truly matters.

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PD: Store

X90 Planner

The X90 Planner has been thoroughly tested by PD and featured in PD: Cool Things 178:


The planner is hard back but opens flat. It is clearly laid out and uses quality paper. It is undated, so you can start working on your goals immediately. There are 90 days in the planner, the ideal length of time to achieve goals.


From US $31.95 plus shipping. Local taxes may apply in your country.

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Important disclaimer: Remember that crowd funding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2018 Prowling Dog