azurelunatic: Teddybear that contains ethernet switch.  (teddyborg)
Azure Jane Lunatic (Azz) 🌺 ([personal profile] azurelunatic) wrote2013-08-25 09:41 pm
Entry tags:

Fitbit! In which I switch from my failing Fitbit Ultra to a Fitbit One, with error messages.

Yesterday I was finally able to replace my failing fitbit Clippy. Clippy was suffering from the basic design defects of the Ultra series (the plastic was not flexible enough to deal with the hinge being bent, so plastic was chipping off the hinge, and the black layer was coming loose from the blue layer, and little bumpy shards of blue plastic rained out every time the two halves separated), but also had the screen crack (I mean WTF, a fitbit's screen is not supposed to crack) and had ceased to charge at home despite reinstalling all the things. (It still charged at work though, but it wouldn't sync at work because firewall on steroids. So I was carting the adapter between home and work every few days the last few weeks.) I've come to rely on the data that Clippy feeds me enough that I become anxious at the thought of not having it, and since it's had a measurable good effect on my general stamina and well-being, I felt it worth replacing.

Despite the design flaws, I would have been happy with another Ultra, but the series was discontinued, and all of the places still carrying it had jacked up their prices to well above the prices of the current line.

The current line of Fitbits are Zip, One, and Flex.

Zip was right out for me because it doesn't track sleep. That's why I have the thing, so it would not have worked.

The form factor of Flex would have been amazing, but it doesn't show your step count directly, and it doesn't show the time. These are dealbreakers for me. Plus [personal profile] ryan says the fastener is just a complete pain in the ass, and I have a hard time with easy wrist fasteners.

I use my tracker as a watch because it saves fishing out my phone and saves my phone battery a little. If I'm going to have a device on me, the least it can do it show me the time.

Now, step count. That ties directly in to how I'm using the Fitbit as part of a (self-guided) rehabilitation program.

One thing that may not be in-your-face-obvious about me over the internet as opposed to seeing me in person: I use a cane. Much of the time you will see me with my cane hooked over an arm. You may see me on short walks without the cane -- if I know where I am going and how long I will be standing, I may decide I don't need it. I keep a cane at home, in my car, and at work. Usually if I have a reasonably close parking spot, I can walk from my car to my cube without needing the cane, and can subsequently fetch coffee, run to the printer, and many other things without needing the cane. My knees are dodgy (increasingly less so these days -- the right one hardly ever aches anymore unless I've done something stupid, and the high calf pain on the left one has gone away -- but they're still dodgy), my balance is questionable, and my stamina is laughably low. If I am in pain or physically tired, or if I am standing in one place for more than a few moments, I will probably deploy the cane. If I am negotiating stairs, I may deploy the cane. If some young whippersnapper is being a douche, I will likely deploy the cane.

When I initially got Clippy, on [personal profile] norabombay's sage advice I reset the preset step goal to something I was likely to actually meet. After a few months of getting used to wearing the thing, and getting closer to regularly meeting the step count, I employed a principle that I picked up from animal training: set the goal, and once you're getting 90% compliance, bump the goal up. So I made rules about that, too, designed to stop me from going WALK ALL THE STEPS!!! :| and then Walk ALL the steps? :(((((( -- namely, that the 90% compliance must be over a rolling 1-month period, and then I could not walk all over hell and back, meet 90% of the new goal over the same 29+1 days, and bump the goal up the very next day (because I know me) -- I am not eligible for another bump up for another month after an increase.

Having an actual step count quickly brought actual numbers to an observation I'd been making all along: namely, that when I walk more than I am accustomed to, for example if there is a festival or I go on an epic shopping run, then I am in great pain and useless for any significant activity the following day. The safe limit for maybe not spending the following day mostly in bed with horribly stiff and aching muscles is that I should not more than double my goal step count in a day. Do I go over that anyway? Sometimes! And then I see my step count on the following day plummet, and then slowly pick back up on subsequent days. In order for my efforts to be sustainable, I need to not foolishly overreach my limits, because that is not actually helpful even though I might convince myself that pain is weakness leaving the body or whatever. I still won't be able to walk the next day.

Unfortunately, Fitbit is not designed with the needs of people who need to limit their step count in mind. It is designed for people who need motivation to reach their goal step count, and who will be able to limit themselves from harmfully overstepping it after they reach it, without being warned or prompted. If the Flex showed me the time, and then allowed me to set green/amber/red levels for after I've reached my goal, I could probably use it. It doesn't, so I can't.

That left me with the One.

I was nervous about the One because it's described as having a silicone holder, and the pictures show a thin clip on the back of a flexible silicone basket that cradles the tracker.

Upon actually examining the thing, I was less nervous. The clip is made of metal coated in silicone, so it is flexible to a point, but neither inclined to flop nor be easily snapped. It grips whatever it's holding on to with three ridges on the basket side near the hole, and three ridges on the clip side near the bottom. The underlying metal thing extends for most of the bottom of the basket, meeting the end of the clip on the outside.

The silicone basket itself has little decorative and functional holes in the sides. The function is so that when you try to pry the tracker out of the holder, the partial vacuum breaks quickly and you can actually pull it free. After [personal profile] amberfox's experience losing her burgundy One "Natasha" under the seat of a van, and the way the little thing skidded out of my fingers when I was fiddling with it and fell under my desk, I've decided that the only time I'm pulling it out of the holder is when I'm bringing it out to charge it. I've already worked out a system that works for me for sleep -- instead of using the included wristband with pouch, I use one of the long hair elastics that wraps twice around my wrist.

The best way to put the tracker back in its carrier is small (button) end first.

I had a hell of a time installing the sync program and getting everything set up and linked to my account. I'm used to robust products that are smart enough to notice when they're being installed all whackanoodle out of order, so I just started plugging things in and installing things. Instead, you have to go in a very specific order, and it probably helps to uninstall your previous junk beforehand. I was running into javascript errors and swearing a lot.

I thought it was installed, and when I went to manually trigger a sync, I got a script error dialog box.

An error has occured in the script on this page. Line: 38 Char: 258 Error: Access is denied. Code: 0 URL: Do you want to continue running scripts on this page? Yes No

It was not in fact fully installed. The thing where I entered my email and username, clicked a button, and then went back somewhere else with nothing more to do was a silent failure mode, not actually authenticating me. I changed my email address on the site to not have a plus in it, just for shits and giggles, along with a complicated uninstall-and-restart, unplugging all of the Fitbit-related peripherals from my system, and that seemed to work a lot better. is the full guide if you need it.

I eventually did get it set up, after a lot of swearing.

All of the personal information seems to be required. Binary gender is required. Weight is required. Fuck all of that, but this thing is actually useful to me, even though I am coming to hate the designers more and more for requiring these things. (I am able to set the gender back to "Select" on the website, but once a weight is entered, you can't zero it. You can enter something entirely foolish like 1 pound, at least on the website.)

The alarm buzz is not as vigorous as a cellphone buzz. I don't yet know if it will wake me from a well-rested sleep. I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't wake me from a dead exhausted sleep. The alarm goes off for a while. I'm not sure how long it keeps going off if you don't turn it off yourself. If there is an alarm set, it will display in position after the time, with the three-letter weekday abbreviation and a bell icon. It will flash between the weekday and the time of day. So no, your obnoxious roommate with access to your logged-in dashboard wouldn't be able to set you an alarm for an inconvenient time of day without you being able to see it on the tracker once it synced.

I miss the reassuringly fuzzy glow of the Ultra, but I understand why a smooth surface is better than the soft coating, particularly given that Clippy's was being worn off by the knife-sharp edge of the bail on my necklace. (Which I should get repaired one of these days.) The crisp pixels are businesslike and harsh.

Fitbits do not belong in showers, not even the splash-resistant ones. It says to not take them swimming, and to keep them dry whenever possible, so I'm guessing that the shower is right out. Alas.

I think I'll do well with it. The longer battery life alone will be very helpful.
vass: Small turtle with green leef in its mouth (Default)

[personal profile] vass 2013-08-26 06:18 am (UTC)(link)
Unfortunately, Fitbit is not designed with the needs of people who need to limit their step count in mind.

I don't think it ever occurred to the designers that too much exercise could be bad for a person, in the same way that it didn't occur to them that too few calories could be bad or that there is such a thing as too low a weight.

Your rehab plan is truly excellent. I've been watching your progress admiringly on Twitter.
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)

[personal profile] amberfox 2013-08-26 06:21 am (UTC)(link)
The fastener on the Flex is indeed a thing of evil and has taken me 5-10 minutes to get fastened securely. However, since it's waterproof to about 10m, I only have to take it off about once a week to recharge. The lack of clock is still stupid, though.

I haven't had much use for the alarm on the One except as part of tracking it; as long as it's within range of a device that can sync, you can set an alarm for +1 minute and hunt for buzzing noises. But my sister uses the Flex alarm to help her get up for work, and I barely notice it go off if I'm awake, so I suspect usefulness varies by individual.

Oh, and keep an eye out for the timer that's used for sleep-tracking getting triggered randomly, since it just requires a short press.

I'm really pleased to have noticed recently that my knee is doing a lot better -- I haven't needed my cane in a couple of months and I've mostly stopped wearing my knee brace -- but I am irrationally certain that if I move my cane from its spot by the desk, I'll jinx myself. I mean, given that I damaged it falling wrong, it *shoild* be better by now, but should is a worthless word.
lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)

[personal profile] lannamichaels 2013-08-26 11:34 am (UTC)(link)
Thirded on the Flex fastener being horrible. When I got it, I was about to return it because I couldn't get it fastened. I can get it fastened now, but it's still a huge annoyance.

It also fails on activity tracking while mowing the lawn; because of the placement on the wrist, I think the vibrations from the lawn mower keep hitting the "start activity" and "end activity". A 45-minute mowing session will have activity turning itself off and then on again at least 10 times.
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)

[personal profile] amberfox 2013-08-28 07:30 am (UTC)(link)
My sister takes off her Flex when we go to the theater because clapping will switch modes. (I don't seem to have that problem, but it's pretty aggravating.)
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

[personal profile] rymenhild 2013-08-26 12:12 pm (UTC)(link)
For what it's worth, my father accidentally went into the pool with his fitbit one twice. It's still counting.
aedifica: Me looking down at laptop (off screen).  Short hair. (Default)

[personal profile] aedifica 2013-08-28 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
This is good to read, thank you! My Ultra has been very decrepit-looking ever since I got it back after losing it at the airport (yay for having my phone number on it) and I've been debating getting an One.

(And the Fitbit website thinks I weigh 1499 pounds, because yeah, can't go back after you enter a weight but can change it to anything!)
Edited (swap terminology) 2013-08-28 02:07 (UTC)
ext_3679: (Default)

[identity profile] 2013-09-19 02:05 am (UTC)(link)
Hi, I meant to ask you about this earlier but then I had my accident and it fell to the wayside.

Anyways I wanted to ask about your canes. Do you only use the crook style that you can hang over your arm? Or do you ever use a flat-handled cane?

I have one of each and which one I use depends on where I'm going. The flat-handled cane I made myself out of hardware store parts and I use it in more rugged terrain. I like the fact that I can turn it upside down and it can lean anywhere without support. I also feel the flat handle allows me to shift my grip in response to terrain easier. The crook top cane seems to allow me to keep a better pace on even ground, plus it's easier to maintain my grip for longer periods. As a bonus I painted mine to look like a candy cane.