What does Fitbit’s “Switch to Activity Record” mean?

I got a Fitbit Force for an early Christmas present this year, and at first I was confused by the the fitbit.com “Switch to Activity Record” option. I figured it out, so I thought I would write about it here in case the explanation helps anyone else.

On the “Sleep” tab you can “edit” a sleep entry and see something like this:

Editing a "Sleep" entry

Here Fitbit’s site is showing me that I slept 10:24pm – 6:01am.

If you click “Switch to Activity Record” near the bottom of the yellow box the sleep data disappears and the UI changes to say “Record has been moved to your Activity Tracking page. Click to view“.

What just happened? Where did my sleep go?

Clicking “Click to view” (or going to the Activities tab) and selecting the same day the sleep data was for shows:

Activities entry

Aha! “Switch to Activity Record” took my sleep data (from 10:24pm – 6:01am) and reinterpreted it as non-sleep data; so now the movements I made from 10:24pm-6:01am are interpreted as steps/calories/etc.

You can change this data back to being interpreted as sleep data by editing the entry and clicking “This is a sleep record”, shown here:

Activity view

Maybe “Switch to Activity Record” is obvious to you, but I think it could use a better UI/description.

(I won’t get into how terrible the fitbit.com overall UI is. Okay, I will: note that “End time” is “6 : 1” instead of “6:01”, and that checkboxes and buttons and links are seemingly randomly used to change and select options, and that the time entry forms are completely different in the Activity and Sleep views, and that Some Options Are In First Letter Caps and others are not.)

On the bright side, I like the Fitbit Force device itself. It’s relatively comfortable to wear during the day and at night (normally I hate wearing watches while I sleep), and seems accurate enough, though I’ve only used it for a day so far; we’ll see how it holds up over time.

While I’m blah-blah-blah’ing here, I’ll add that I’d like to see a new feature. As it is, you press the Force’s (only) button to see the current time. I noticed that each time I want to see the time I first rotate my wrist so the Force’s display is more parallel to my face. My feature request is that the Force recognizes this sharp-ish wrist rotation and activates the display without requiring me to press the button. Maybe that’s not possible in practice with the sensors the Force has, but it might worth a try.

Creation, Ownership, Drive, and Motivation

Ben Pieratt says:

“Creation is entirely dependent on ownership.

Ownership not as a percentage of equity, but as a measure of your ability to change things for the better. To build and grow and fail and learn. This is no small thing. Creativity is the manifestation of lateral thinking, and without tangible results, it becomes stunted. We have to see the fruits of our labors, good or bad, or there’s no motivation to proceed, nothing to learn from to inform the next decision. States of approval and decisions-by-committee and constant compromises are third-party interruptions of an internal dialog that needs to come to its own conclusions.”

Check out Ben’s full post: http://pieratt.tumblr.com/post/977179815/in-praise-of-quitting-your-job

Don’t let the title of “In Praise of Quitting Your Job” fool you into thinking it’s a negative post – it’s not.  It’s a positive post, which lines up well with Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

Drive looks at “the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose,” which is another way of talking about what Ben calls “ownership.”

I love embedded, and so does Woz!

I love working in the embedded world.  Hardware + software = a great time and a great career.

I came across this fantastic quote by Steve Wozniak in “Making it Big in Software,” by Sam Lightstone.  Woz is talking about designing the Apple II:

“And I did every piece of software from the ground up, through applications that you can’t pin down for any one of them.  The hardware was so interrelated that I can’t really divide it into software and hardware alone.  Those days were that way.  Today, if you work on embedded processors, you put a little microprocessor into a small product.  That’s the job in the world that I would love to this day! That’s what I did back then; it mixed both hardware and software.”

Sounds like Woz wants my job.  🙂

Geeky Grammar

Holy Parenthetical Emoticons, Batman!

I’m glad that Randall has the guts to tackle the tough issues facing the world today: emoticons in parenthesis. Check out the comic.

Since I’m starting my own copyediting and proofreading business, this issue is particularly timely and relevant for me.

Randall outlines the basic options:

  • blah (or blah 🙂
  • blah (or blah 🙂 )

The first option looks like the author threw an extra colon in there.  The second option looks like the author mashed the keyboard with her elbow.

We also need to consider these options:

  • blah (or blah 🙂
  • blah (or blah 🙂 )
  • blah (or blah :-D)
  • blah (or blah 😀 )
  • blah (or blah :-)-)
  • and what about (this (or this (it gets ridiculous fast 🙂 ) )

“American” English writing style is primarily dictated by two style guides: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and The AP Stylebook.

I could only find references to emoticons and parenthesis in CMOS, and it dodges the question (source):

Until academic standards decline enough to accommodate the use of emoticons, I’m afraid CMOS is unlikely to treat their styling, since the manual is aimed primarily at scholarly publications. And the problems you’ve posed in this note give us added incentive to keep our distance.

If the experts are no help, what are we to do?

Thankfully the web makes everyone a Certified Internet Expert (including me 🙂 ), so follow along as I puzzle it out.

Round One

  • As a programmer I want each open parenthesis “(” to match exactly one close parenthesis “)”.
  • As a writer I realize that an emoticon must be considered as a whole, not merely as a collection of individual characters.  Therefore any parenthesis or other character within an emoticon should have no bearing on the punctuation of other words.

Round Two

  • As a programmer I know that I will try to visually match each parenthesis pair I see.
  • As a writer I find “) )” slightly less offensive than “))”.

Round Three

  • As a programmer I will use sed or vim or a Firefox hack to rewrite any text I don’t like, so I don’t really care what you writers think.
  • As a writer I want the rules that govern “:)” to match the rules that govern “:D”.

The Decision

As a Certified Internet Expert I decree that emoticons shall be considered as a single symbol.  An emoticon shall always be followed by a space.  If an emoticon ends a parenthetical phrase, the closing parenthesis that matches the opening parenthesis must be used, regardless of whether the emoticon itself contains a parenthesis.

Correct examples:

  • He said he would be happy to do it (he lied 🙂 ).
  • He lied (she knew he would 😀 ).

Tune in next time for another exciting episode of geeky grammar.

M&M’s Musings

We have an M&M’s-filled candy machine at work and we wondered:

  • What do you call it when you get exactly 6 M&M’s in a single turn of the dispenser, one of each color?  M&M Yahtzee?  Full House?
  • And how about when you get more than 6 M&M’s in a single turn of the dispenser, with at least one of each color?

Suggestions?  Please leave a comment!

PS: the 6 M&M’s colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown.  See for yourself.

Presentation Presence

A software vendor gave a sales presentation at my office today.

The vendor sent two people to present – a sales guy and an engineer.

The sales guy started the pitch with an overview of the software. Sounds great, says us, but we need a bunch of technical details to know if it’s worth pursuing. This is a critical piece of software, it will interact with a lot of internal systems, and so we need to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

So we ask a bunch of questions which the engineer answers to our satisfaction. Probably 30 or 45 minutes go by, mostly a back-and-forth between us and the engineer. He knows his stuff, and he seems to enjoy telling us about their technology.

The sales guy doesn’t have much to contribute, which is fine. Or rather, it would have been fine, if Mr. Salesguy would have appeared to be paying attention, or at least not acting distracted and bored.

Instead Mr. Salesguy checks his email. Checks his voicemail. Fiddles with his pen. Fools around on his computer for a while. Does a lot of things that tell me he doesn’t care about this sale. All with a look of “Get me out of here” on his face. Which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence or help the sale at all.

What’s the lesson here? When you make a sales pitch / presentation / demo / whatever, make sure that every single member of your team is devoting 100% of their attention to the customer. Even if you’re not currently speaking, even if you’ll never speak – act interested! Better yet, BE interested! And if you can’t get interested, then you probably don’t need to be there in the first place.

The Death Of the Desktop

And no, this “death of the desktop” post is not about how mobile devices or the browser is taking over the world – it’s about taking a step back and rethinking how we actually use computers (desktop, mobile or otherwise), and then trying to take a more usable step forward.

Thanks to Chris Jones for writing about a very interesting talk by Aza Raskin:

Video: Away with Applications: The Death of the Desktop

You should check out Chris’s summary, and the video as well.

This is one of the few videos I’m glad I watched instead of just ripped to mp3 and listened to – a lot of visual stuff, well worth the time.

Why bother with RSS?

(cut-n-pasted from my reply to a “Business of Software” forum question)

I resisted using an RSS reader for quite a while, mainly because it was “the new hotness” that I didn’t see any use for.

What made me start using it?

I read a fair number of websites, and I like to know when something new shows up. So I used to check each website every day and scan it for new content. Slashdot. Anything new? Yup, read a couple. Joel on Software. Anything new? No. Paul Graham’s rants. Anything new? No. Steve Yegge. Anything new? Yes, read it. You get the point.

The “load page – see if anything new” loop was getting tedious, especially since frequently there was nothing new to read, so loading the page was a waste of time.

Enter RSS. I chose NewsGator Online, subscribed to the websites/blogs I like, and *bam* – all the new content comes right to me, only one website (NewsGator) to load, no wasted time.

Well, unless you count the time I spend reading stuff on the web as wasted time, which might be accurate.