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Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

I’m a big fan of the various trackers out there. I’m also a fan of making the world a better place. I’m also a sysadmin so intrinsically lazy. I haven’t yet figured out how to bot my way to a studleyrific body yet, but I have figured out a few things that allow me to donate to charities without actually doing anything I wasn’t already doing anyway using my FitBit and my FuelBand (yes, I’m still wearing both — I’m like Brett Favre making up my mind here). So here are a few sites I’ve been tinkering with:
  • EveryMove: This app is trying to do too much. But it also does a lot. Go figure. You can earn “rewards” using this app, put your insurance carrier in, add your employer (I’m guessing for emergency contacts in case you get wiped out on a run?!?!), put your gym in, integrate with Twitter and Facebook, use the app as a social network instead and most importantly for this article, earn rewards that are donations to one of a few different causes. Integrates with Foursquare so you get “points” for going to the gym, FitBit, Moves, Nike+ (running, not FuelBand) and MyFitnessPal as well.
  • Nexercise: As with the above app, you work out and opt to donate your points. But, this one isn’t integrated with all the wearables, so I don’t use it nearly as much. You manually enter your workouts and then they credit you with points, which are redeemable for a number of things, including donations to causes.
  • Earndit: This is a site, not an app. You can integrate with FitBit, Moves, Nike+ (running) and FourSquare to track trips to the gym. Use points and challenges to donate to charity.
  • GoFitCause: This isn’t an app, it’s a site. A World Fit For Kids! (WFIT) provides purposeful physical activity and action-learning opportunities that help youth develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required to make healthy choices that last a lifetime. Basically “pledges” your NikeFuel to the cause.
  • CharityBets.com: Set a goal, or organize a match, get people to donate if you meet your goal and then do some stuff. Good stuff. Doesn’t sync with the FitBit or Nike+, but you can enter your data.
  • CharityMiles: This app gives you a very small thing to do to help donate to a few different causes. My favorite part about this app is they actually tell you exactly what you’re earning: “Bikers earn 10¢ a mile and walkers and runners earn 25¢ a mile, up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.” It doesn’t seem like much, but if you run a lot and you get others who do to join in on it, then it adds up.
  • Run4Good: You can tell by the name that it’s a good thing. Run4Good is by Saucony so it doesn’t integrate with any of the Nike+ stuff, so I don’t really use this a lot. But you are helping to fight childhood obesity each time you go for a run using this app. You can create Teams, win trophies and check stats. You can also integrate with Facebook and Twitter. But don’t.
  • Weightless Project: Convert your FitBit calories to donations to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

February 15th, 2014

Posted In: Wearable Technology

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At first I didn’t think that I was going to write a review of my Pebble. Then, I realized that my perspective is probably different than most, so I changed my mind and decided to jot down 10 things to know about the Pebble. Before I get into that though, I’m one of those weird people that still wears a watch. Yes, I know, how very dated I must look. But hey, I really don’t care so I keep wearing it. Therefore, a different device on that wrist really doesn’t move the needle, it’s just a device that isn’t the other one that I wore for 20 years… I have stopped wearing my Tag completely, but that’s OK, it’s getting a little long in the tooth anyway. pebble-watch The Pebble has a lot of promise. A lot is fulfilled and more yet has yet to be fulfilled. Let me explain, starting with the things I love (the promise that is fulfilled):
  • The Pebble has an SDK. Using the SDK, developers can design apps and sell them or post them online.
  • The battery of a Pebble lasts me about 5 or 6 days, depending on how many push alerts the device gets over the low power bluetooth connection back to my phone.
  • The screen is monotone and epaper, which is to say that it is not designed to emit light (unless shaken) and so you can see the screen very well in sunlight, much like the pump at a gas station.
  • The Pebble receives low power bluetooth push alerts from your phone. This means that when someone says something on Instagram, likes a photo on Facebook or sends you a text, you see it on the phone and on the watch. Since many alerts you just look at, this keeps you from taking the phone out of your pocket. You can’t really do anything with most alerts, but you can see them and just file the piece of information for later. The alert will still be on your phone when you take it out of your pocket.
  • When someone calls, you see caller ID and contact info on the watch.  You can then answer a call right from the watch. If you’re wearing headphones and a mic then you never have to take the phone out of your pocket to answer calls.
  • You can control music on your iPhone through the watch. This means you can go forward and backward without taking the phone out of your pocket. When I’m on my morning runs this is especially helpful when I’m on a treadmill as taking my phone out of my pocket on the treadmill often makes me just unstable enough to possibly wipe out on the treadmill. I’ve only had it in the winter here in Minnesota so I’m not sure if that will matter to me when I get to run outside again.
The promise to be fulfilled:
  • I think this starts with a true app store, like Apple has. There are accelerometers and other doohickeys in these things that mean they can really do a lot more than what they can today. The app store isn’t out yet, although you can buy or download apps at the Pebble site (it’s just not a simple process all the time and better apps typically tend to get written when people make money from them).
  • There are fitness apps but the device doesn’t yet replace a FuelBand or a FitBit. It doesn’t track steps (which with an accelerometer should be simple to do), calculate burned calories, etc. I’d like to see an app that allows you to choose foods you tell an app on your phone you like so you can calorie count at the dinner table without busting out your phone. I’d also like to see a step tracking app that can sync to FitBit so I can stop wearing my Force.
  • Watchfaces are currently the big thing most apps allow you to control. I don’t give two craps about changing the watch to look different.  However, if you want to make your own “Haz Cheezburgur” watch face, feel free (this isn’t really a bad thing, just a lot of time wasted designing pixelated and monotone watch faces that could have been spent writing cool apps).
  • The device is currently half way between SDK 1 and SDK 2. This means there are cool features that you can only get if you go through a lengthy upgrade process that includes sending them a UDID for your iOS device. It’s not a terrible thing, like the other promises to be fulfilled with the Pebble, it’s just a thing.
Overall, I love the Pebble. The nerd factor around not having to take your phone out of your pocket, the ability to skip songs, the ability to look and see which push alerts you actually care about are all awesome. I hope that the app store brings with it a bunch of new apps that give you access to lots of things and that I can get rid of my Nike FuelBand or FitBit soon, but that could be 2 weeks from now or 2 years for all I know. It’s a quality device that’s well worth the money if the things I mention are things that you’d like to have. However, for now it’s not a replacement for that Garmin, FuelBand, etc type of device you may be using for fitness purposes. Anyway, if it’s the type of thing you’re into then good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

January 5th, 2014

Posted In: Wearable Technology

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I’ve started a list of Nike+ Badges and how to earn them using the web sites, apps and Nike personal trackers (Nike+, Nike FuelBand). Nike+ and Nike FuelBand NikeFuel is a gamification unit that composites steps and other activities to establish a point system by which you can track your fitness endeavors against those of your friends. Based on these points, you earn badges, displayed on the Nike+ website and within various Nike apps. Badges based on points include the following:
  • 5K: Earn 5,000 NikeFuel
  • 10K: Earn 10,000 NikeFuel
  • 25K: Earn 25,000 NikeFuel
  • 50K: Earn 50,000 NikeFuelnike-fuelband
  • 75K: Earn 75,000 NikeFuel
  • 100K: Earn 100,000 NikeFuel
  • 150K: Earn 150,000 NikeFuel
  • 200K: Earn 200,000 NikeFuel
  • 300K: Earn 300,000 NikeFuel
  • 500K: Earn 500,000 NikeFuel
  • 600K: Earn 600,000 NikeFuel
  • 700K: Earn 700,000 NikeFuel
  • 800K: Earn 800,000 NikeFuel
  • 900K: Earn 900,000 NikeFuel
  • 1M: Earn 1,000,000 NikeFuel
  • 1.5M: Earn 1,500,000 NikeFuel
  • 2M: Earn 2,000,000 NikeFuel
  • 8K Day: Earn 8,000 NikeFuel in one day
  • 10K Day: Earn 10,000 NikeFuel in one day
  • 15K Day: Earn 15,000 NikeFuel in one day
  • 20K Day: Earn 20,000 NikeFuel in one day
Nike+ The Nike+ app on iPod requires an app; however, the Nike+ Running app in iOS no longer requires the adapter in the shoe to function. Feel free to wear your New Balance, Adidas, Sketchers, flip flops or go barefoot. Just make sure to have the app running so it tracks things. The Trainer app does require the correct shoes in order to function properly. Download the app here.
  • 3 Times A Week: Run 3 times in one weekNike+
  • 5 Times A Week: Run 5 times in one week
  • 7 Times A Week: Run 7 times in one week
  • 3 Weeks: Run at least one time 3 concurrent weeks
  • 4 Weeks: Run at least one time 4 concurrent weeks
  • 5 Weeks: Run at least one time 5 concurrent weeks
  • 6 Weeks: Run at least one time 6 concurrent weeks
  • 3 Months: Run at least once for 3 months
  • 6 Months: Run at least once for 6 concurrent months
  • 9 Months: Run at least once for 9 concurrent months
  • 12 Months: Run at least once a month for a year
  • Bronze High Mile Trophy: Run 15 miles in a month
  • Silver High Mile Trophy: Run 25 miles in a month
  • Gold High Mile Trophy: Run 50 miles in a month
  • Platinum High Mile Trophy: Run 100 miles in a month
  • Celebrity: Share runs on Twitter, Path or Facebook 10 times
  • Double Shot: Run twice in a day
  • Sneaker Head: Run with 3 different pairs of shoes
  • Resolution: Run on New Years Day
  • Dragon: Run on Chinese New Years Day
  • Uncle Sam: Run on the 4th of July
  • Chocolate Heart: Run on Valentine’s
  • La Fiesta: Run on Cinco de Mayo
  • Jack O Lantern: Run on Halloween
  • Early Bird: Run from 3am and 6am 5 or more times
  • Extra Frosting: Run on your birthday
  • Anniversary: Use Nike+ for a year
  • Night Owl: Run from midnight to 3am 5 or more times
  • Stormproof: Run 5 times (outside) in the snow or rain
  • Off the Beaten Path: Run 5 times on a trail
  • Beach Bum: Run 5 times on the beach
  • Intercontinental: Run on two different continents/countries
  • Comfort Zone: Run a route 10 times
  • Local Legend: Most runs on a route
  • Speed Demon: Fastest run on a route
  • Nike+ Challenge Race Winner: Win a Challenge Using Nike+
  • Nike+ Challenge Race Finisher: Finish a Challenge Using Nike+
Web Interface Badges Goals are set in the Nike+ web client and while they aggregate data from the FuelBand and Nike+ apps, they are typically viewed within the web interface and can currently only be earned by establishing goals within that interface. To log into the Nike+ web interface, visit http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/running/home/<yourusername>. These goal badges include the following:
  • Run More Often: Set a goal of a number of runs and then complete the goal
  • Run More Miles: Set a goal of a number of miles and then complete the goal
  • Earn NikeFuel: Set a goal of how much NikeFuel you’d like to earn in a period of time
  • Burn Calories: Set a goal of how many calories you want to burn in a number of weeks
FuelBand The Nike+ FuelBand is a device worn around the wrist (or shoe in cases where you’re trying to track biking data). The FuelBand has an LED that shows steps, calories, NikeFuel and other information. The FuelBand is one of the early wrist-worn fitness trackers, introduced in 2011. Nike provides a number of badges based specifically on the use of the FuelBand, including the following:
  • 30 Days: Use the FuelBand for 30 days
  • 50 Days: Use the FuelBand for 50 days
  • 100 Days: Use the FuelBand for 100 days
  • 200 Days: Use the FuelBand for 200 days
  • 500 Days: Use the FuelBand for 500 days
  • Water: Exceed a FuelBand goal by 50%
  • Ice: Exceed a FuelBand goal by 100%
  • Fire: Exceed a FuelBand goal by 150%
  • Rainbow: Exceed a FuelBand goal by 200%
  • Supernova: Exceed a FuelBand goal by 300%
Nike Training Club The Nike Training Club is an app that provides videos and walkthroughs of various workouts. You are timed while you perform these workouts. As you complete each, you are awarded. The duration of time worked out and complexity increases, with the following awards based on the total number of minutes of the workouts:
  • Contender: 30 Minutes
  • Drill Seeker: 60 Minutes
  • Destroyer: 120 MinutesIMG_1513-200x300
  • Rebel: 180 Minutes
  • Bar Raiser: 240 Minutes
  • Cyclone: 300 Minutes
  • Bench Marker:360 Minutes
  • Warrior: 420 Minutes
  • Power Player: 420 Minutes
  • Champion: 660 Minutes
  • Icon: 780 Minutes
  • Believer: 1000 Minutes
  • Easy Rider: 1125 Minutes
  • Spitfire: 1250 Minutes
  • TNT: 1375 Minutes
  • All-Star: 1550 Minutes
  • Trail blazer: 1625 Minutes
  • Renegade: 1750 Minutes
  • Reformer: 1875 Minutes
  • Guru: 2000 Minutes
  • Rep Star: 2125 Minutes
  • Gazelle: 2250 Minutes
  • Rule Breaker: 2375 Minutes
  • Ace: 2500 Minutes
  • Prize Fighter: 2625 Minutes
  • Radical: 2750 Minutes
  • Showstopper: 2875 Minutes
  • Black Belt: 3000 Minutes
  • Maverick: 3125 Minutes
  • Dynamo: 3250 Minutes
  • Cobra: 3375 Minutes
  • Hero: 3500 Minutes
  • Idol: 3650 Minutes
  • Risk Taker: 3750 Minutes
  • Smooth Operator: 3875 Minutes
  • Young Gun: 4000 Minutes
  • Titan: 4125 Minutes
  • Hot Shot: 4250 Minutes
  • Knockout: 4375 Minutes
  • Title Holder: 4500 Minutes
  • Major Player: 4625 Minutes
  • Top Dog: 4750 Minutes
  • Master: 4875 Minutes
  • Fox: 5000 Minutes
  • Chosen One: 5125 Minutes
  • Conqueror: 5250 Minutes
  • High Roller: 5375 Minutes
  • VIP: 5500 Minutes
My personal feeling about badges and awards is that they’re cute but that they’re not going to form a habit on their own. The trackers on the market should do as good a job as possible at helping you to change long-term behaviors. To me, having to manually sync a device makes it hard to base long-term judgement of the quality of your behaviors because you’re eventually going to stop using the device when you realize you forgot to sync it for a few days. The value of that long-term outlook of performance is really just a standard ROI calculation of what you’re getting out of things. For example, the impact of running an extra 10 minutes a day for a month on BMI or just what you see in the mirror. I like NikeFuel a lot because it’s a good start. And I think that Nike and the other fitness trackers (including apps that have no device attached) help me a lot. I look forward to seeing what’s next on the wearable frontier, for sure (maybe build a scale into my shoes at some point pretty pretty pretty please!).

October 10th, 2013

Posted In: Running

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