Techman Texts: TechMan takes on fitness

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Physical fitness is not TechMan’s strong suit. The only kind of conditioning he regularly employs is air conditioning.

But in a fit of self-improvement, he decided to pay more attention to his health. Of course, his first thought was, “What kind of gadget can I get to help with this?”

So when he saw a Fitbit Flex on clearance, he went for it.

The Flex is an activity tracker in a plastic bracelet. The field of activity trackers is hot right now, and the Flex has competition from the Jawbone Up and others.

Basically the Flex is a pedometer. Using an accelerometer, it can track the number of steps you take or how fitful your sleep is. Using Bluetooth and the Fitbit software, you can sync this information to your computer or mobile device. In the software, you can look at this information in different ways or share it with others. If you hit your goal, five little lights dance on the bracelet as a reward.

The software also allows you to log food intake so you can keep track of calories, although I find this practice tedious and it forces me to face what I really ate in a day.

So TechMan has entered the age of the “quantified self.” I now know exactly how physically unfit I am.

The biggies are getting into the field. Google is expected to announce a fitness device and service next week, Samsung has one on the market and Apple is working on its version.

You’re on: Xbox One owners are complaining that a new TV ad is turning on their gaming devices, the BBC reports. The ad features “Breaking Bad's” Aaron Paul who says "Xbox On" near its start. The instruction appears to trigger the machine's Kinect voice/​motion sensor, activating the console.

Low-tech report: The first major academic study of protected bike lanes (sometimes called cycle tracks) in the United States has shown that bike traffic rises 75 percent in the year after the lanes are installed. The National Institute for Transportation and Communities looked at protected bike lanes in five U.S. cities where the safer bike lanes were installed.

Pittsburgh is expected to have its first dedicated lane for bicyclists in place by the time of the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference Sept. 8.

Legislative idiocy: Boulder, Colo., has 100 miles of fiber optic cable it wanted to make part of a gigabit broadband network, Gigaom reports. But a Colorado law that requires communities to hold a public referendum before providing any municipal broadband or cable network means that the city will have to ask voters to approve a ballot measure in November allowing it to find partners to use that fiber.

According to The (Boulder) Daily Camera newspaper, the law was also a primary reason Google bypassed Boulder when it was looking for cities to expand its gigabit fiber-to-the-home network, Gigaom reports.

Eighteen other states, including Pennsylvania, have related laws. Another case of government protecting vested interests at the cost of progress and the citizen.


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