Tag: <span>GPS</span>

My main aim for this year was to lose weight. Actually that’s not true. My main aim for this year was to be happy which involves changing my lifestyle and habits, mostly focussed around my fitness and weight.

Data helps me with this, tracking my weight loss lets me look back and see how I’ve been doing. To that end I invested in a set of Withings scales. They’ve been great and have really helped me keep focus, and given me that little spur I needed from time to time to get back on my bike, or go for a walk, anything to be a little more active. Aside from my happiness, losing weight is also something I must do as I’d really like to NOT be taking maximum dosage pills for my high blood pressure for the rest of my life. With that in mind I also invested in the Withings blood pressure cuff to let me do accurate readings at home.

Looking to accumulate all my ‘fitness’ related data I looked for ways to track my activities and, as I used it last year when I got my bike I re-installed CycleMeter to track that and looked into Fitocracy as a way to pull it all together.

It was about then I realised my system was a little flawed. CycleMeter only shares data with a single tracking service (Dailymile) which I don’t use… I remembered back to my running days (knee still gubbed so they remain in the past for now) and looked into RunKeeper. Built around an activity tracking service, it also has a GPS app for tracking runs and cycles… not as full featured as CycleMeter but all I really want is time and distance (and a map, that’s nice too).

I’ve spent a few weeks manually updating Runkeeper with the data captured by Cyclemeter (which I then need to manually pull into Fitocracy) and I’m a bit bored of it already. So it’s bye bye CycleMeter and Fitocracy, and hello Runkeeper.

It’s here I should also mention that I purchased a Fitbit a few weeks ago. It was more curiosity than anything but as a way to track, fairly accurately, who active you are throughout the day it’s been far more useful than I first thought. It also syncs with Withings (for my weigh-ins) and Runkeeper (for my activities). It’s also fair to say that it’s got the nicest interface/dashboard of any of the services I use. Withings is shockingly bad and slow to render, Runkeeper is somewhat dated already and really needs a UI designer overall.

So, Fitbit has fast become my hub, the central place where I track personal fitness data because it does what I need it to do and does a lot of that in the background with very little interaction from me.

The last piece falls into place as, thanks to the fact that Fitbit will sync data with MyFitnessPal which I’ve used in the past for logging what I eat and I have a good balance of automated data collection, all pulled together into one useful Dashboard.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, not least because every single app or service I’ve tried has been good in some ways but bad in others. I prefer using CycleMeter but will put up with the deficiencies of Runkeeper to get the data sync’d automatically. I prefer interacting with Fitocracy than Runkeeper but it’s not quite there yet in terms of automated services (and is heavily geared towards weight pumping gym bunnies). Fitbit hits the sweet spot for me and given that I’ve dropped over two stones since January, it seems to be working!

Me on Fitbit

Health Personal Musings Work

Map is a bit wrong, lost GPS for some reason, I did not magically fly across the Clyde and back!

  • Activity: Cycling
  • Distance: 13.14 mi
  • Duration: 00:45:34


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Continuing the terrible titles, this is a take on Catch-22, for no particular reason other than being able to play on the word “private”. Think yourselfs lucky I didn’t choose the schoolboy route and go with “Show us yer privates”.

Oddly the only reason I’m writing about this is because Twitter is currently dead, if it wasn’t then my comment on the issue would’ve been something along the lines of “@plasticbag – nice pic on BBC website! And don’t some people get in a tizzy sometimes..”.

At this point I should probably explain that I’m talking about the recently opened Fire Eagle service which

“… stores information about your location. With your permission, other services and devices can either update that information or access it. By helping applications respond to your location, Fire Eagle is designed to make the world around you more interesting! Use your location to power friend-finders, games, local information services, blog badges and stuff like that…”
[from Fire Eagle help page]

It’s a smart idea, and one which plays nicely into the fact my iPhone has GPS built-in so I can ping exact location information back to the Fire Eagle website at any time I choose. Clever.

But, of course, the privacy nutters (I use the term advisedly) have leapt all over this, stating that locational information could be stored by any of the 3rd party websites or applications that use Fire Eagle and then they’ll know where you have been!

Don’t get me wrong, I realise such things could be abused but from what I can make out Fire Eagle has considered such things. For starters they let you control the level of granularity of the geographic information that you share with other services, from pinpoint co-ordinates to a “I’m near this city” level location. Whilst you can purge your current location from the service at anytime, the privacy busters are more concerned about the historical information that could be stored.

Now I can see that will be an issue for some people, and that having a system know where you’ve been is worrying as it will, no doubt be used to guess where you will be at a given time and then… umm… yeah. Not sure what happens then.

Worse is the possibility of a hi-tec burglar watching out for your location changing before breaking and entering your house. These days I’d guess it’s not that hard to find an address for someone who looks rich, use Google maps to get the geographic co-ordinates of their home and then just wait until they update Fire Eagle with a new location (hey hang on, that DOES sound simple, eep!!).

Or, you know, if you are worried about it DON’T USE IT!!

And no, I’m sorry but the argument of “some people won’t know any better” doesn’t cut it. If they don’t know any better why are they signing up for a service they don’t understand? The Fire Eagle website does a pretty good job of telling people what it is all about so perhaps we need to shift a little responsibility on to the individual?

I’m sure some of you have stronger opinions on this topic than I do, I’d love to hear them. But be prepared to be mocked for, if I’m honest, I really don’t believe the end of the world is nigh because someone knows where I am.

News Work

I’ve created a new category for these posts, it’s about time I think…

Anyway, completed the jogScotland Glasgow Green 5K tonight, in a 29 mins and 18 secs!! Woooohoooo. My private aim was under 30 minutes but given that I was still a little leg heavy after Sunday’s 10K I was doubtful I’d manage it, but I did!!

Last kilometre almost killed me mind you but hey, I’m still alive and feel vibrant. What a buzz.

The downside is that, given that this is a popular race (around 2500 entries I think they said) I am pretty sure the distance is accurate. Alas my Nike+ thinks I only ran 4.6km. I know it’s never going to be as accurate as a GPS system but it was only out by 100m on Sunday, yet tonight it’s lost .. ummm.. fractions were never my strong point.. let’s just say that it’s lost a ‘fair percentage’ of the distance I ran.

Of course I’ve yet to actually calibrate the thing properly, but to do that I need to find, ideally, a 400m running track and apparently Hamilton boasts only one and that is fenced off and locked up most of the time, and even then I doubt it’s going to be in very good condition from I could tell from peering through the gate.

Still, an new PB for me. This running thing could catch on you know…

Health Work