Thursday, May 21, 2015

Yet Another Fitness Tracker review

Few months ago I gathered my courage and signed up for a 5K run in San Francisco. I will be posting more about how it went in about a week. The run is girly and silly, it's not by any means a hardcore competition - up to the point were participants are given tutus to run in with registration. And I am actually planning to run wearing a tutu... So I am by no means a serious runner, here is my official confession that I haven't regularly exercised in nearly two years.

The run was a good motivation to get moving. But what is the point of running if you can't measure it by ten different parameters? As a reasonable geek, the workouts, especially runs seem dull and pointless to me if I can't pinpoint a number.. that being steps run, distance passed, calories burned, maximum hearth rate reached, and some other not entirely accurate information presented in numbers.

Therefore, before even starting to train I went to look for a new fitness tracker. I had previously had an  Up fitness tracker by Jawbone that I was reasonably happy with for a few months. Until the time it started to incorrectly count the steps and shut down sporadically without any warnings. I gave up on it after shutdowns started happening every day, multiple times a day.

When Apple watch was announced I was reasonably excited about it, expecting to fall in love with it from the first glance (the feeling I had for iPad). From the very beginning I was convinced that I was going to by the cheapest model - Sports edition, because Gold edition is for very rich people who I will not understand (no offense if you are reading this post from a over 10K worth iWatch), the intermediate model also seemed really overpriced, paying extra few hundred dollars for a strap sounds too much. I also wanted the bigger screen size 42" to give me more real estate for watching Netflix (kidding, kidding). But I really wanted the larger screen. So I finally got to try it, and really didn't like it, especially the Sports edition. The way the band and buckle fit are just awkward (band sort of goes under itself, pinching you every time). The intermediate edition I liked was $700 before tax which seemed like too much.

After some more research I ordered Pulse Ox by Withings from Best Buy. First and foremost because I love their scale and app that comes with it, allowing me to track my weight changes overtime. (I especially enjoy the tracking when the weight chart goes down, not so much when it goes up). Secondly, a coworker who is hardcore runner and backpacker, recommended it, especially stressing that the battery only needs to be charge once every 2 weeks. Online reviews warned that it is very sensitive to water, if you happen to get some sweat during the workout or even few drops when washing your hands it gets fried. Therefore, I got Best Buy's incidental insurance ($29) and ordered the band for $120.

So far, I have had it for 3 days and absolutely I hate it! The band appeared nice until it broke within first half an hour of wearing. It broke irreversibly second time later that day. I am down to wearing it with the clip. One of the features it is advertised for is sleep tracking if you sleep with it around your wrist. Well that is a dangerous plan and you are sure to scratch your face and other body parts if you move your arm when you sleep, I took it off after first 5 minutes in bed. The band also has hearth rate monitor, for which to work you need to take if out of the clip/strap navigate to correct menu item and old hold against your finger. Something you are not going to do when running.

I haven't returned O2 yet, but I will soon. Please share your experience if you have better luck with other products.

Update 5/31
The run was a great experience. I survived it at 40 minutes, with about 12 minutes per mile. And here is the self-incriminating photo promise.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Microsoft girl going to Google I/O

Wow, it has been over a year since my last post. I hereby promise to post *much* more frequently. My life has changed dramatically in this time, and I constantly felt the need to blog about so many things, the difficulty of choosing the most pressing topic to write about and the time to write about them. In one sentence summary of the changes: today I am proud mom of 11 moths old Ella, trying my best to best split my time between my family and the job I love – building things and breaking things.

Now focusing on my upcoming trip to Google I/O... 
I have been a Microsoft girl for a very long time. Even when I complained about not planning to use Visual Studio few years ago, I ended up going back to it (I know), and building the test infrastructure and automation frameworks of Netflix on Windows phone 8.1 in C#. In the last few months I am focused on building test framework (from scratch again!) for Netflix app on Windows X coming this summer. Since Microsoft is changing directions, and the native apps don't have to be written in .Net anymore, and they also promise easy conversion from Apple and Android apps to Windows, it is tempting to forgo .Net. That is what I am doing and using Javascript and Node for building the framework. In this world I switched away from Visual Studio to Sublime. Have to admit, I miss the debugging utilities of VS.

Back to my excitement, Google I/O ( is one of the most popular developer conferences, that gets sold out in minutes and offered a lottery system this year to buy tickets. A group I am member of, offered me to participate last month. Of course I said yes. I am going to learn a ton about Google products, GO language and maybe their approaches on large scale deployments and designing automation frameworks. Coming up June 28-29, in San Francisco. Any topics or sessions that you think is not to be missed?