Friday, January 28, 2011

Technology and fitness goals

It started on Twitter.  Someone I follow tweeted about a fitness product unfamiliar to me - FitBit.  Being curious, I went to the website  The first thing I saw was the price - $99.00.  I did not look further - it was too high.  I did not know exactly what FitBit did or if it warrented the $99.00 price. My vague impression was that it was a high tech pedometer.

Then, at TED@MotorCity, it was mention by Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor of Wired and author of The Decision Tree.  Thomas made the point that people need personal, relevant information to make better choices.  He showed graphs and charts from FitBit.  Thomas talked about the nature of the personal, relevant information the FitBit provided.  Additionally, he talked about the ease of use, tracking against goals and against others.  My interest in FitBit went up.  I went back to the website to find out more information.  In addition to keeping track of activity, it also keeps track of sleep.  Sleep is important.  The price seemed a lot more reasonable.

I needed more information, so I checked out the reviews in Wired and the Wall Street Journal.  The reviews were from October and November of 2009.  Generally, they were positive.  Both mentioned a lack of a manual.  Time to go back to the FitBit site.  A link for the manual is right on the home page.  I am even more interested, but not quite ready to order.  In addition to the features already mentioned, it also tracks calories consumed and expended.  Usefull personal relevant information.

A blog post by Angela Jenkins (@AJhealthcoach) on the Healthier Michigan website moved me to action. Five Ways Technology can Help You Achieve and Maintain Your Ideal Weight .  One of the technologies mentioned - FitBit.

All of this happened within two weeks.  I got the hint and ordered my FitBit.

11/04/09 - Fitbit Sees How You Run, Walk and Sleep

10/16/09 Pocket-Sized Workout Pal Is Data Geek's Dream | Product
Reviews |

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday tradition

A couple of years ago, we started a Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday tradition. It began over the holiday weekend. I went to Sam’s Club – just normal weekend routine errand running. Both girls were with me and very well behaved. They kept asking to look at the cakes. We need a cake they chanted. I had other things on my mind - I was focused on getting the items on my list. And this did not include cake. The store was not crowded and I was not in a hurry, so we did browse. The girls looked and insisted that we needed a cake. I purchased everything on the list and we left without a cake.

During that weekend, we spent time talking about Dr. King. My oldest likes his mustache. My youngest thinks he is good looking. At the time both girls thought he never smiled. We assured the girls that Dr. King was a father who enjoyed time with his friends and family and smiled and even laughed.

Monday, the girls again insisted we needed a cake. I asked why? They said we needed a cake to celebrate Dr. Kings birthday. Here was their flawless logic and reasoning: on their birthday, the celebration includes cake; we were celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday so we needed cake. I went to the store with my oldest to pick out a cake. We bought candles, sang Happy Birthday to Dr. King and had cake.

A new tradition was born and continues.

Friday, January 14, 2011


There was a TED event in Detroit, TED@MotorCity on January 9th.  What is TED?  The best and most clear explanation comes from the site:
"TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."
The event, supported by Lincoln was held in The Music Box at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.  The venue is beautiful.  Lincoln vehicles were out front and inside and people were encouraged to examine the vehicles and take a survey about the brand.
Gary Bolles, curator of the event, is CEO of Xigi Inc. From the website
"xigi (zig'-ee) builds custom software solutions for social-information network mapping and online publishing. The xigi Insight Engine™ provides a flexible and highly scalable platform for the delivery of hosted social-information solutions to the business, government, and non-profit sectors."
Gary introduced C.J. O'Donnell, Group Marketing Manager for Lincoln Mercury, who gave brief remarks.
The theme for the TED@MotorCity event was "New Tomorrows".
Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor of Wired and author of The Decision Tree spoke about personal health care.  Better information (personal and relevant) can lead to people making better health choices.  He used a standard blood test result document to illustrate his point.  The document - dense text did not really convey the information in a way that was meaningful for the patient.  Wired changed the report to a color chart showing where the patient was relative to the ideal results.  People need personal relevant feedback to make better choices.  Technological examples he gave are FitBit, a device that measures activity; Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale which will tweet your weight; and Lose It! a calorie-counting app.  His book, The Decision Tree, is now on my reading list.
Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine spoke about the societal change from makers to … A few generations ago, people made things.  People were handy.  Now, not so much.  We need to get involved and return to our maker heritage.  His talk reminded me of the folks who tinker and mashup and create.  I’m sure this is  due to the fact that I am reading Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Topscott , Anthony D. Williams. 
John Gallagher is the architecture critic for the Detroit Free Press and the author of Rethinking Detroit.   He spoke about the origins of urban sprawl and a return to community.  Cheap energy allowed people to move further and further out.  Now, there is a desire to live, work and play close to home.  People want walkable communities.  John encouraged us to imagine Detroit as a blank canvas and to adopt a “let’s try it” attitude.  His book, Rethinking Detroit is now on my reading list.
Jessica Care Moore is an internationally renowned poet/ publisher/ activist/ rock star/ playwright and actor.  She performed poetry accompanied on cello by Cecelia Sharpe.  I became a fan after seeing her at the TEDxDetroit event in September.  The photo in the background, cello and poetry combined into an exhilarating experience.  Jessica ended her performance with a challenge “I see ideas everywhere. Do you?”  I do Jessica, I do.
Craig Newmark, founder of was interviewed by curator Gary Bolles.  Craig spoke about the power of connectedness and collaboration.  Again, this fits nicely with the book I am reading: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.  Craig encouraged us to get connected and get involved.
Lisa Gansky, author of “The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing” was the final speaker and she talked about seeing the planet as one big sharing platform.  Lisa encouraged us to share and learn – from our successes and failures.  And again, her talk resonated with the book I am reading: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.  Lisa’s book, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing, is now on my reading list.
The reception was full of new connections, insightful conversations and fabulous food.  A very well done event by the fine folks at TED and Lincoln.
Other folks also wrote up the event:
Beck Davis
Jeannette Gutierrez
Benjamin Slayter
The speakers on Twitter:
Thomas Goetz
Dale Dougherty
Craig Newmark
Lisa Gansky