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Jeff Hayes

Jeff Hayes

Thursday, 08 June 2017 20:23

Review - Inexpensive Fitness Bands

What is a Fitness Band?

A fitness band, in it's simplest incarnation, is a pedometer you wear on your wrist instead of on your belt and it doubles as a wristwatch.  As you'll see, in more elaborate incarnations they can take on the role of diagnostics instrumentation for your body.

10k Steps

This is where it all started.

The origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren't exactly scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed under the name "manpo-kei," which translates to "10,000 steps meter," said Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Here's how that comes about.  An average adult in the US walks about 4-6 steps a day.  I get that pacing about the home office and whatnot.  Here's what I didn't know up until I looked into this.  Motions that don't make you "break a sweat" still count as exercise in some ways.  For instance, they still burn calories and they still make your muscles work.  They won't do much to enhance your capability, but they will do a lot to prevent further degradation from a sedentary lifestyle.  After doing my normal thing of constructing tortuously elaborate spreadsheets I have calculated my calories per pace at 0.038 calories.  It doesn't sound like much, but when you multiply that by 5000 you get 190 calories burned.  By walking 10000 steps that's another 190 additional.  Over the course of a week that's about 1400 calories or 1/3 lb in fat loss.  

By getting off my ass for another 5000 casual steps I burn 1/3lb a week of fat.  In the end, it's not a hard concept.  It's just another way to say, "Don't be so sedentary" but this time it comes with a specific goal attached... 10k steps.  That leads us to:

Gamification

From Wikipedia, 

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.  Gamification commonly employs game design elements which are used in non-game contexts to improve user engagement...

That's a long-winded and geeky way to say, "make life fun like video games".  In the case of the fitness bands, what they do is give you a simple goal -- walk 10k steps.  Then they give you some way to see your progress towards that goal and a reward when you achieve it... a little happy face... a buzz on your wrist, whatever.  The point is you get rewarded for success and human brains like that sort of thing.  It's the same little reward you get when you check off a todo item in your task manager.  This is the ultimate goal of fitness bands.  Anything beyond this is smoke and mirrors unless your product says "Garmin" on it and cost a few hundred dollars.

Fitbit

Fitbit was the company who actually pulled this all together into a usable fitness band that was reasonably high quality and came with good software and a good software ecosystem.  Not only do the various fitbit devices track your step count they also work (mostly reliably) to sync that count to your phone or computer and, from there to the fitbit community and beyond.  Being able to sync into the larger data world becomes important for those who want more than just to "get fit".  If you want to lose weight, you'll need to track what you eat AND what you burn.  The best site by far (in my opinion) for doing so is MyFitnessPal.  Fitbit syncs it's steps (and associated calorie counts) into MFP so that you can see at a glance how much you've eaten, how much you've burned, and how many calories you still have to go.

 

mfp_calorie_counts.png

On the day shown, my initial weight loss goal was to eat 1570 calories.  By mid-afternoon I had eaten 614 calories and exercised 469 calories for a "net eaten" of 145.  And right there is another gamification reward you get for your stupid little fitness tracker lighting up with steps...  If I wanted to, that 469 calories is enough for a bacon double cheeseburger at McDonalds.  Your reward is food (or additional weight loss if you so choose).

For me (a numbers guy) there's another reward and that is knowledge.  For the first time I feel like I'm running a diet and health plan for myself and my wife and I actually know, with some reasonable degree of precision, what's going on.    The actual results are clearly visible in our newly baggy clothes and newly tight thighs.  The washboard abs of my dreams still elude me but hey, it's only been three weeks!  But you know what?  My belly is just starting to hint that perhaps there's something washboard-ey under there.

Garmin

The last bit of overview is to talk about Garmin's products because honestly, that's pretty much what all the cheap fitness bands claim to do.  The difference is that the Garmin products actually do it.  By the time you've dumped around $600CAD into a fitness band you've got a system which is really capable of measuring your body fairly accurately and reporting out all manner of things including recovery rates, stride optimizations, workout goals, and it goes on and on.  The Garmin units are able to do all this because they use a LOT more sensors (typically the wrist device, a chest band for heart rate measurements, and a "foot pod" for stride information.  This is what you buy when you are serious about training for something like a triathlon and you have money to burn.  These devices aim to do what an Olympic coach would do and, with limitations, they do a pretty decent job of it.

I mention the Garmin units because all of the nifty features you were hoping for in the mid-range units really work there.  That makes the mid-range units nearly pointless.

Inexpensive Fitness Bands

In case you hadn't heard, everything is manufactured in China nowadays.  That includes fitness bands.  These devices range from $13 CAD to about $50 CAD and, for the most part, will all do what you need (step count) from the hardware level.  It's the software that almost all of them fall apart on.  Before I link to the individual reviews, I want to go over the list of features you'll commonly see and my impression of them:

  1. Call and SMS reminders:  (aka notifications).  I find this feature worth the $13 all by itself.  My wife is hard of hearing.  That means calling her on her cell phone is an exercise in futility.  She simply won't hear it.  She does, however, feel her wrist buzzing.  I can see this feature also being useful for people who can hear fine but are in noisy environments like city streets.
  2. A watch:  OK yeah, it bears mentioning.  You're going to be wearing this thing on your wrist all day.  It's a watch and that's handy.  Even nicer, it's a watch that always knows the correct time and date.
  3. A pedometer:  They count steps.  You can figure accuracy is within about 10% in my experience.  That means it's plenty good enough for the average sedentary person who wants to "get more fit".  It is not good enough if you're training for a race.
  4. They monitor your sleep:  I find this fascinating information.  You can see how well you slept because they monitor your motions throughout the night.  The downside is you have to wear something in bed (ewwwwww).  And, if you're my wife who hates light at night, they have a tendency to turn into "little fire flies" on our wrists.  Still though, both she and I wake up in the morning excited to see what our sleep looked like.
  5. Alarm clock:  For those of us who sleep with someone else, a silent alarm clock which wakes me up but not my partner is also worth $13CAD all by itself.

Beyond here it gets very sketchy:

  1. They monitor your heart rate.  Sure they do.  Under some circumstances and some times.  Really, they can only monitor your heart rate when you're mostly relaxed.  Sweat seems to interfere with the optical sensors and my wrist band was reporting 88 beats per minute on the elliptical trainer.  The chest strap was reporting a much more reasonable 155.  My fitness band had been doing pretty well up until I started to really sweat.   This still has some utility.  If you look for one which continuously measures your heart rate you can get a good solid resting heart rate measure while you sleep.  Resting heart rate is one of those key indicators of overall cardiovascular health.  What they won't do is measure your heart rate while you're working hard which means they won't accurately estimate your calories either.
  2. Blood Oxygen.  Same story.
  3. Blood Pressure.  Same story.
  4. Sedentary reminder.  Ok yeah... but honestly if you're making your 10k steps daily then you're probably not finding all that much time to be totally sedentary.

What you will find, like me, is that all the units do pretty well at the first 5 items and whatever they do with the last 4 hardly matters since the accuracy simply isn't going to be there.  Where they live or die is in software.  Accordingly, you can save money on the fancy features that probably won't work well anyway and just focus on getting a cheap fitness band with good software.  This is why I think there are only 3 prices for fitness bands:

$25:  I'm enough of a geek to figure this out and I don't need the FitBit community.  I can work with the MyFitnessPal community instead.  China is your friend.

$150:  I just want it to work.  Buy a fitbit.

$600:  Outa my way!  I'm training for the olympics!  Garmin is your vendor.

 

 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 22:18

Jeff Hayes

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Mobile: (250) 634-5036
     
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Download my contact information
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Friday, 03 March 2017 17:11

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This is a sample article.

 

 

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Vis ei habemus scaevola. Nibh inciderint et vel, ex has perpetua dignissim. Ad has possim accusamus efficiendi, ut numquam denique has. Per te postulant prodesset. Vis te verterem deterruisset, cu probo ipsum tritani pri, ei nam ignota ornatus senserit. Usu te erant ponderum accusata.

I have applied the "Clear Float" style to this paragraph.  See how it has pushed down below the image which was floated to the left?

I also applied the "Text Center 33%" style" which put it in this blue box.

Usu illud tamquam nusquam ea, ea vim duis persius. Ne sed novum assentior adolescens. Lorem audiam indoctum ex per. Oratio meliore te vis, has an erat oporteat. Doming voluptua officiis qui in, ocurreret salutatus repudiare an sit.

Sea causae gubergren torquatos te. Duis meliore adversarium usu ei, ea nam elit dissentiet, mea interesset neglegentur ea. Eam te alii porro referrentur, cu duo essent quodsi euripidis, soleat temporibus instructior ius in. Ad nominavi epicurei assentior eos. Et pro iusto recteque, ius appetere qualisque persequeris no, in ignota facete mel. Ea appellantur ullamcorper contentiones qui, an munere copiosae eos, qui te omnis munere. Te duis primis est.

This is the "Text Right 33%" style which, as you can see, floated this paragraph to the right one third of the screen.

Justo inani everti eu per, purto viderer petentium te vim. Pro adhuc atomorum reformidans ad, sed esse docendi ad. In quando ridens periculis eum, odio scaevola has ea. Virtute suavitate omittantur ne his, quaeque interesset eos ut. No tota porro alterum quo, et sea illud ponderum, ad pri alia repudiare. Ea odio viris feugait mea, docendi atomorum mea te, his at eirmod invidunt mandamus.

Fuisset luptatum ea est, per virtute appetere petentium eu. Clita graeco efficiantur ne mea, partiendo suavitate no sit. Vis ea menandri lobortis, an detracto noluisse sit. Ad facilisis torquatos cum. Mel wisi prima expetenda et.

Cu cum invidunt assentior, in dolor omnes gloriatur mea, vel veri molestie dissentiet ea. Veri tollit nec ad, in minim primis pericula nam. Sit ex offendit senserit, nam prima luptatum mnesarchum te. An elitr nemore lucilius nec. Nec in latine molestie reprimique, ne vidit deseruisse assueverit nam. Ea duo modo sensibus.

Usu ipsum animal malorum ex, dicta mucius expetendis has ea. Ius et primis gloriatur, pro nemore tibique philosophia te. Usu oratio definitionem et, usu facer erroribus delicatissimi cu. Mei animal conclusionemque at, eos an cibo discere. Eros urbanitas quaerendum no vis, mei ipsum repudiare te, mei eu soleat eirmod officiis. Rebum petentium te qui, errem quando est te, an bonorum appareat hendrerit mel.

BlameMeIVotedGreenIcons proposal3OK, so this is interesting.  Here I am with a new editor called "Drop Editor".  It comes with some other tools called "Drop Pics" and "Drop Files".

Drop Pics, as it's name implies, allows you to drag & drop pictures from your computer to an article... pictures like this one here:

Now, I've saved this guy as a thumbnail.

But I could also have dragged the full size image.  In fact I did that in a second step so I could grab the URL for it then I hooked that URL to the link for the thumbnail.

Also of interest is the "drop files" aspect.  

Friday, 06 November 2015 00:00

PixelSplash Privacy Policy

PixelSplash Privacy Policy
 
 
This privacy policy has been compiled to better serve those who are concerned with how their 'Personally identifiable information' (PII) is being used online. PII, as used in US privacy law and information security, is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context. Please read our privacy policy carefully to get a clear understanding of how we collect, use, protect or otherwise handle your Personally Identifiable Information in accordance with our website.

What personal information do we collect from the people that visit our blog, website or app?
When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your name, email address, Social Media Information or other details to help you with your experience.

When do we collect information?
We collect information from you when you register on our site.  
 
Of special note is that when an administrator of this site configures or installs the PixelSplash Joomla Connectivity facebook application then that application is given a range of permissions on facebook.  Specifically, the application is able to read public profile information and to read, manage, and post to any facebook pages to which the authenticating facebook user has administrative privileges.  Under no circumstances should this operation be performed by anyone who is not a PixelSplash administrator.  If you have somehow found our facebook application and are reviewing this privacy policy now would be a fine time to back out and, if applicable, uninstall the application from your facebook account.  We don't want to manage YOUR facebook pages and you don't want us to.


How do we use your information?

We may use the information we collect from you when you register, make a purchase, sign up for our newsletter, respond to a survey or marketing communication, surf the website, or use certain other site features in the following ways:
       To personalize user's experience and to allow us to deliver the type of content and product offerings in which you are most interested.
       To send periodic emails regarding your order or other products and services.

How do we protect visitor information?

Our website is scanned on a regular basis for security holes and known vulnerabilities in order to make your visit to our site as safe as possible.
We use regular Malware Scanning.
We do not use an SSL certificate
       We do not need an SSL because:
Only an email address is collected and only if a user chooses to register with the site. The email address may be anonymous (ie: generated solely for this site).

Do we use 'cookies'?

Yes. Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computer's hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the site's or service provider's systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information. For instance, we use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart. They are also used to help us understand your preferences based on previous or current site activity, which enables us to provide you with improved services. We also use cookies to help us compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future.

We use cookies to:
       Help remember and process the items in the shopping cart.
       Compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interactions in order to offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may also use trusted third party services that track this information on our behalf.

You can choose to have your computer warn you each time a cookie is being sent, or you can choose to turn off all cookies. You do this through your browser (like Internet Explorer) settings. Each browser is a little different, so look at your browser's Help menu to learn the correct way to modify your cookies.

If users disable cookies in their browser:

If you disable cookies off, some features will be disabled It will turn off some of the features that make your site experience more efficient and some of our services will not function properly.

However, you can still place orders
The PixelSplash store may not function correctly.
over the telephone .


Third Party Disclosure

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information unless we provide you with advance notice. This does not include website hosting partners and other parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others' rights, property, or safety. 

However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.


Third party links

Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.

Google

Google's advertising requirements can be summed up by Google's Advertising Principles. They are put in place to provide a positive experience for users. https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/1316548?hl=en 
We use Google AdSense Advertising on our website.

Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on our site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to our users based on their visit to our site and other sites on the Internet. Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.

We have implemented the following:
       Google Display Network Impression Reporting

We along with third-party vendors, such as Google use first-party cookies (such as the Google Analytics cookies) and third-party cookies (such as the DoubleClick cookie) or other third-party identifiers together
Gather web site analytics which are not personally identifiable. This information helps us to understand where our customers come from and what browsers they are using in order to ensure a positive experience on the web site.

Opting out:
Users can set preferences for how Google advertises to you using the Google Ad Settings page. Alternatively, you can opt out by visiting the Network Advertising initiative opt out page or permanently using the Google Analytics Opt Out Browser add on.

California Online Privacy Protection Act

CalOPPA is the first state law in the nation to require commercial websites and online services to post a privacy policy. The law's reach stretches well beyond California to require a person or company in the United States (and conceivably the world) that operates websites collecting personally identifiable information from California consumers to post a conspicuous privacy policy on its website stating exactly the information being collected and those individuals with whom it is being shared, and to comply with this policy. - See more at: http://consumercal.org/california-online-privacy-protection-act-caloppa/#sthash.0FdRbT51.dpuf

According to CalOPPA we agree to the following:
Users can visit our site anonymously
Once this privacy policy is created, we will add a link to it on our home page, or as a minimum on the first significant page after entering our website.
Our Privacy Policy link includes the word 'Privacy', and can be easily be found on the page specified above.

Users will be notified of any privacy policy changes:
       On our Privacy Policy Page
Users are able to change their personal information:
       By emailing us
       By calling us
       By logging in to their account

How does our site handle do not track signals?
We don't honor do not track signals and do not track, plant cookies, or use advertising when a Do Not Track (DNT) browser mechanism is in place. We don't honor them because:
The Joomla base technology that this site is developed in doesn't support DNT however the only tracking done by this web site is highly aggregated information via google analytics.

Does our site allow third party behavioral tracking?
It's also important to note that we allow third party behavioral tracking

COPPA (Children Online Privacy Protection Act)

When it comes to the collection of personal information from children under 13, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) puts parents in control. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, enforces the COPPA Rule, which spells out what operators of websites and online services must do to protect children's privacy and safety online.
We do not specifically market to children under 13.

Fair Information Practices

The Fair Information Practices Principles form the backbone of privacy law in the United States and the concepts they include have played a significant role in the development of data protection laws around the globe. Understanding the Fair Information Practice Principles and how they should be implemented is critical to comply with the various privacy laws that protect personal information.
In order to be in line with Fair Information Practices we will take the following responsive action, should a data breach occur:
We will notify the users via email
       Within 7 business days
We will notify the users via in site notification
       Within 7 business days

We also agree to the individual redress principle, which requires that individuals have a right to pursue legally enforceable rights against data collectors and processors who fail to adhere to the law. This principle requires not only that individuals have enforceable rights against data users, but also that individuals have recourse to courts or a government agency to investigate and/or prosecute non-compliance by data processors.

CAN SPAM Act

The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have emails stopped from being sent to them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
We collect your email address in order to:
       Send information, respond to inquiries, and/or other requests or questions.
       Process orders and to send information and updates pertaining to orders
       We may also send you additional information related to your product and/or service.
       Market to our mailing list or continue to send emails to our clients after the original transaction has occurred

To be in accordance with CANSPAM we agree to the following:
       NOT use false, or misleading subjects or email addresses
       Identify the message as an advertisement in some reasonable way
       Include the physical address of our business or site headquarters
       Monitor third party email marketing services for compliance, if one is used.
       Honor opt-out/unsubscribe requests quickly
       Allow users to unsubscribe by using the link at the bottom of each email

If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, you can email us at
       Follow the instructions at the bottom of each email.
and we will promptly remove you from ALL correspondence.


Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below.
http://www.pixelsplash.ca
881 Tillicum Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9A 1Z
Canada
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Edited on 2015-11-06
Saturday, 31 October 2015 00:00

Embedding Custom Fonts in Themler

I can't be the only one who's thought that the built-in fonts are nice but might not work for a given application.  In this case, I was workign to create a grunge, hand-sketched sort of look.  I needed a typewriter font.

With a bit of googling I found an appropriate opensource font with valid licensing terms.  

Now, let me stop here a moment and go over that... with valid licensing terms.  Specifically, that means you must be licensed to use the font on a server not simply your desktop!  

Now, let's assume you are clean on licensing. In my case the license simply stated that I couldn't sell the font so I'm good to go.  But the next problem was getting the truetype font on my system into some sort of usable format for the web.  This is known as a webfont and despair not because fontsquirrel has the answer for you.  There, you can upload a font or fonts and generate a webfont kit all set to go... almost.  

  1. Go to fontsquirrel and generate your font.
    You can leave all the options at default.  When you're done, download the font zip file.
  2. Create a fonts directory in the root of your HTML space.
    For siteground that looks something like:  public_html/fonts
  3. Upload the zip file to that directory and extract it.
  4. Edit the generated font family names
    This is the step that got me.  Themler called my font "Veteran Typewriter".  Fontsquirrel called it "veteran_typewriter".  Yup, so no dice on any font loading.  I used the chrome console to inspect the element and find exaclty what themler called it.  Then I edited the stylesheet.css file to make the accordingly.

    In Themler:  

    The edited stylesheet.css:
  5. The last step is to link that stylesheet into your web site.
    There are several ways to do this but how I did it was by going into the themler settings and adding the link statement into "Additional Head HTML".



    The link statement I hear you say?  Take a look at the directory in which you extracted the fonts.  You'll find a <fontname>-demo.html file.  Go ahead and view that in your browser.  It not only shows you your font but also how to install them.  Take a look at the 4th tab over and you'll find the link statement conveniently written there for you.

Enjoy.

Well this one had me stumped for quite a bit.  I tried several different editors and all of them were totally willing to ignore the content styling from the front-end.  This sounds like a minor issue but with a dark background and light text it could become problematic fast.  This solution works, at a minimum, for JCE and probably many other MCE variants.

  1. Create or edit a stylesheet
    My tools, by default, create an editor.css stylesheet.  That's neat but it doesn't have the required items to style the editor content.
  2. Find the body selector
    Note, mine had more than one.  You might want to just put your own down at the bottom.
  3. Add the needed styling.
    In my case, it looked like this:

    body {
    color: #ffffff!important;
    background-color:#1a1a1a!important;
    font-family:Tahoma,Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif!important;
    font-size:14px!important;
    }

    Note that every attribute is tagged with !important to ensure it doesn't get overwritten later.
  4. Save the stylesheet
  5. Flush any site caching going on
    Not so much Joomla's content caching but any caching being done by your hosting provider.
  6. Clear your browser's cache
    Yes, this is really important.  If you don't you will not see the changes.
  7. Smile because things look right in your editor now.
Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:00

Justifying K2 Images

K2 is a wondrous addition to joomla... but why oh why does it put those item images centered over the articles like that?

Chinese hackers you say?  What would they want with my itty-bitty web site?

Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00

Victoria AM Association

More pro-bono work... well... if you can call it that when I sit on the board for this organization.  So in real life I've become their geek in charge and things like "overhaul the web site" fall onto my plate.

 

Website

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