President Obama and I have the same fitness tracker. His, however, has some customizations:
What counts as must-have features for many people — high-definition cameras, powerful microphones, cloud-connected wireless radios and precise GPS location transmitters — are potential threats when the leader of the free world wants to carry them around.
And so using the latest devices means more than merely ordering one on Amazon for delivery to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It means accepting the compromises imposed by White House technology experts, whose mission is to secure the president’s communications, and by the Secret Service agents who protect him.
He has not given up, though. Mr. Obama is the first commander in chief to regularly carry a specially secured BlackBerry. He reads briefings and checks scores from ESPN on an iPad (the first of which was given to him by Steve Jobs before its public release). And recently he has been seen wearing the Fitbit Surge, a fitness band packed with all the latest technology, on his left wrist.
The article goes on to speculate (because neither the Secret Service nor Fitbit will comment on presidential security) just which features, exactly, they've removed. And my friend request has so far gone unanswered...
We're experiencing what everyone hopes will be the two coldest days of 2016. This morning Chicago woke up to -18°C temperatures and a forecast for more of the same through tomorrow night.
And then Wednesday it all goes back to the weirdly warm winter we've been having. The Climate Prediction Center still says we're going to have a warmer-than-average winter, and even the long-term forecasts call for high probabilities of warmer-than-average temperatures through June and beyond.
These temperatures kill my Fitbit steps, though. After a 21,000-step weekend, so far today I've barely passed 2,000, and not a lot of motivation to walk miles in this cold. (Usually by lunchtime I've hit 6,000 or so.) During the coldest days of last January I had a similarly awful record, bottoming out at 4,447 steps on January 12th. The week ending January 18th was my lowest 7-day total (60,302) until November 29th (56,109).
As the work week slowly grinds down, I've lined these articles up for consumption tomorrow morning:
And now it's off to the barber shop. And then the pub.
After all the kvetching I did this morning, I'm pleased to report that I hit my step goal today (before 5pm), as I expect to do the remaining two days of the year.
There will be stats and sunrises soon. Stay tuned.
I'm having my worst week ever since getting a Fitbit: only 65,000 steps from last Tuesday through yesterday. Christmas, traveling, and yesterday's horrible weather have really hobbled my step count.
So far today I'm at 4,200 steps, and I have some errands to run this afternoon that will help. But wow, five days below 10,000? Scandal. Even Parker is bored.
I'm working from home today because I had a cable guy here for two hours, and because winter has finally arrived. The rain and sleet is also a problem because my Fitbit numbers have been off for four straight days.
I did get a lot of sleep this past weekend—but that also could be a factor today, according to new research into weekend lie-ins. (tl;dr: sleeping in on Sunday makes it harder to wake up on Monday.)
I'll have more later today. Now I have to figure out how to get a custom Microsoft Dynamics instance to play well with my company's software. That will be just as fun as it sounds.
It turns out, my Fitbit doesn't make me sad, but the numbers I get when traveling sometimes do. Despite a 3.5 km walk around Springfield yesterday, it was the second day in a row and the 4th in 10 days for which I missed my 10,000-step, 10 km goal.
On the other hand, last night I got almost 9 hours of sleep (according to my Fitbit), through several trains and a thunderstorm.
Yes, there was a thunderstorm in December in central Illinois. That's just weird. And in future, probably a lot more common.
Duke University business professor Jordan Etkin found evidence they might:
"In general, tracking activity can increase how much people do," Etkin said. "But at the same time, measurement has these pernicious effects. Enjoyable activities can became almost like a job, by focusing on the outcomes of things that used to be fun."
In another study, researchers had 310 participants read for eight minutes. One group read additional text that described reading as fun an enjoyable; for another group it was described as useful and educational — more like work. A third group received no additional information. In all three groups, some readers were told how many pages they had read as they went, others were not.
The readers who could see how many pages they had read reported that reading felt more like work and less enjoyable than those who could not — but not among participants who were told the project was more work-like at the start.
"This doesn't mean we should stop measuring our daily activity," she said, "but we need to balance that increased productivity against our underlying enjoyment. For activities people do for fun, it may be better not to know."
Finding out that my Fitbit might make me sad makes me sad.
Of course, this could just be a horrible example of bad science reporting, which Deeply Trivial just blogged about yesterday.
For the last couple of days, I've missed my 10,000-step goal by 100 to 500 steps. This is why:
Yesterday Chicago got its biggest November snowfall in 120 years; today it's well below freezing. Walking is treacherous at best for bipeds and uncomfortable for quadrupeds. So today might also be a miss.
I haven't missed three days in a row since March 5th-7th—when, not coincidentally, we had a miserable, snowy week. Winter is hard on fitness.
I forgot that I picked up my FitBit a year ago this week. So how am I doing since 24 October 2014?
- 4.76 million steps (13,000 per day)
- 4,081 km (11 km per day)
- 4,557 floors (12 per day)
By FitBit's reckoning, that puts me somewhere around the 90th percentile of FitBit users worldwide. It also means I've walked the entire length of Japan and climbed enough stairs to reach the normal cruising altitude of a commercial jet.
And Parker and I are about to get more steps in just a few minutes.