Despite the Garmin Venu handing the Fitbit Ionic its ass in my first test of exercise tracing, the Fitbit didn't fail completely in sleep tracking.
Based on my self-perception of how well I slept, including my (and Parker's) acute awareness of the squall line that pushed through around 6:30, I think the Fitbit might have recorded my awake time more accurately. The Garmin, however, also recorded pulse oxygen, respiration, and can display movement on the UI.
Here's the Fitbit results:
Also, yesterday my Fitbit counted 18,206 steps to the Garmin's 12,142—but I put the Garmin on my wrist at 1pm. Adding the 6,963 the Fitbit recorded before 1pm, that means the Garmin and Fitbit differed by (19,105 – 18,206 = ) 899, or 4.7% for the 11 hours between 1pm and midnight. Today I'm using both of them, though I switched wrists (yesterday the Garmin was on my dominant side; today it's not).
The thunderstorms from earlier have pushed on through the area, so once I digest my omelet and my Garmin fully charges, I'll do a longer test of exercise tracking.
Yeah, the Garmin wins, hands down.
After realizing that my first head-to-head test pitted an Ionic whose GPS was failing against a treadmill exercise, I went out for a quick loop around the block with both trackers correctly set to "Walk."
The Garmin found a GPS signal in about 20 seconds. The Fitbit never did.
After the walk, the Garmin produced this delightful map, complete with weather report and options for different maps:
Right on the activity view, I've got a gear icon with these options:
Fitbit only exports TCX files. Or you can export your entire account archive, become a programmer like me, parse your archive, and extract the relevant item.
But the map and export options just scratch the surface. Look what the Fitbit Web app gives me for this walk (since it didn't have GPS):
And here's the Garmin:
I mean, that's not even fair. Garmin even gave me the weather report, fer gassake. (It did not give me the step count for the activity, though.
Yeah. Fitbit, you were great, but I've grown; you haven't. You fell so far behind Garmin that I don't know how you're going to catch up.
Tonight, I'll see how differently they track sleep. And I hope that I can re-import today's Fitbit steps, else I'll lose the 7,000 I had before I set up the Garmin. Also, Garmin only imports step counts, intensity times, and body mass from Fitbit, not sleep data, so I'll have to find a different solution for that.
I have argued with Fitbit customer service for about as long as I've had a GPS-enabled device, to no avail. Their GPS chips die slowly until they die abruptly. And every time I've complained, they've instructed me on how to get a clean GPS reading. I've noted at those times that my phone, camera, car, and drone all connect to GPS within a few seconds (even from cold start), while my Fitbit Ionic can't connect no matter how long I let it try to find satellites. Or it does this:
I've even tried to troubleshoot this problem for them. I've run experiments on my Fitbit: battery level, sky conditions, clock synchronization (my Fitbit clock is almost always a few seconds behind GPS time). Nothing.
So you know what? I'm done with Fitbit.
Today I received a Garmin Venu, and in the first three hours of owning it, I've realized how far Fitbit is behind Garmin in technology:
- The Fitbit only has GPS, and it almost never works. The Garmin has GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS. (You get to use two at once.)
- Fitbit syncs time from phone; Garmin from GPS.
- Fitbit's software has maybe half the features as Garmin's.
- Fitbit has no concept of time zones, so all their data are stored as simple date-times, meaning traveling between time zones screws up your counts unless you take specific steps ahead of time. Garmin knows what a time zone is.
Plus, Garmin made it trivially easy to import all my step records, so I get to keep my personal records. (July 2018 was intense.)
I will say this, though: the Garmin led me down a garden path when I first tried to record exercise. I wanted to test the mapping features alongside the Fitbit, so I set them both to record walks and started a 3 km blast through my neighborhood. The Fitbit never connected to GPS, and the Garmin thought (for reasons I don't understand) that I was on a treadmill.
I'm about to try again, but with a shorter walk, because it's brutally hot out there.
Lake Michigan continues to set records for high water levels, with yesterday's 177.5 m being more than 90 cm above the long-term average:
Here is the scene yesterday at what used to be the Belmont Harbor dog beach:
Using Google Earth, it's striking to see the change from a more-average April 2015 to the near-record-levels (but still lower than today) in October 2019:
The harbor has even taken part of the pedestrian path running along its edge:
At least the weather yesterday turned out great, giving me an opportunity to walk 13 km and boost my steps a bit.
Illinois has had a stay-at-home order in effect for over seven weeks now, though last week the state and county opened up forest trails and other outdoor activities that allow for proper distancing and discourage people clumping together in groups. So today I drove up to the northern suburbs to the site of the largest Civilian Conservation Corps project undertaken during the agency's run from 1933 to 1940.
It was good to get outside. Not my fastest-ever pace, but still respectable, and somehow I got over 10,000 steps just on the walk.
And when I got back, this was waiting in my inbox:
Fitbit reported earlier this month that, following shelter-in-place orders, people go to sleep later but sleep more:
Based on our review of aggregated and anonymized data, we saw that in locations with shelter-in-place mandates, bedtime and bedtime consistency shifted.
For the most part, people are going to bed later but getting more sleep, as well as more quality rest. For those whose quality of sleep has improved, they have been spending more time in deep and REM sleep.
Even though sleep duration has been longer, it is still important to maintain bedtime consistency for many health reasons. While going to bed later and waking up later makes sense for now, it will be important to try to keep up that consistency even when our schedules change.
According to my Fitbit, I've increased my average night's sleep by 4 minutes and got to sleep an average of 9 minutes later between Decemeber and the last 30 days. My "sleep score" (a proprietary Fitbit metric that ranges from 0 to 100) also went up an average of 4 points also. I'm actually trying to increase my average night's sleep by another 10 minutes, but it's harder than it seems.
Jason Rezaian spent 544 days in solitary confinement inside an Iranian prison. He has some advice on how to survive social isolation:
1. Don’t spend all your time online.
You thought you spent a lot of time on the Internet before? That was nothing. And if you’re active on social media, as many of us are, it’s going to be hard to step off that merry-go-round.
2. Read books
After I was released from solitary confinement after 49 days, I was allowed some small privileges. The one that I quickly realized was the most indispensable was access to books. Reading was a wonderful mental escape from my grim surroundings. It also connected me to the outside world.
No matter how small your living space is, though, you probably have enough room to walk. If possible, take the stairs. That’s what I’m doing. All three flights of them, many times a day.
And with that, I'm going to get my 250 steps for the hour.
My 207-day streak of 10,000 steps per day ended, as I suspected it would, at midnight GMT tonight.
Traveling from Chicago to London takes 6 hours out of the day, and it's hard to get enough steps before 7am to get to 10k by 6pm when most of that time is on an airplane.
Anyway, I'm in the Ancestral Homeland, about to finish the book that inspired the opera I'm performing in next week.
And then there's the other opera that requires I sing rapidly in Russian, without rushing. I brought the score for that one so I don't lose out on missing Monday's rehearsal.
More later. I actually have to get in sync with GMT so I can function on Monday. Wish me luck.
So, 25 million (recorded) steps in 1,840 days. And I'm currently on a streak—which will likely end today because of my long flight tomorrow—of 207 consecutive days of 10,000 steps or more.
It's the first day of November 2019, the month in which the 1982 classic film Blade Runner takes place. Los Angeles has a bit of haze today from wildfires in the area, but I'm glad to report that it isn't the environmental disaster portrayed in the movie. No flying cars, no replicants, and no phone booths either.
In other news: