Review, Viewpoint

Review: UP24 by Jawbone

Here is a brief review of a product I purchased on Memorial Day and returned today (6 days later); UP24 by Jawbone. In all fairness to the device, I did not integrate any external apps to the UP app such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper or IFTTT. An integration with those supporting apps may have changed my perspective.

I needed a kick in the pants. I was feeling sluggish with the start of summer and all the BBQ dinners and accompanying beer(s). I experimented with the Nike Fuelband in the early days and enjoyed the sense of accomplishment it gave, so I did my research and found FitBit and UP24 were the leading fitness bands in the consumer market.

I stopped at the local electronics store and picked up the device. $150+ was a bit steep, but hey…I needed a kick in the pants. Setting up was a real cinch and synced up via bluetooth with my iPhone app immediately. AND I WAS OFF AND STEPPING!

The first day didn’t count because I picked it up mid-day. I was really interested in the sleep monitoring. The first night I set a goal to sleep for 7.5 hours. I went to bed, set it for sleep mode and woke up 7.5 hours later. The device immediately synced up via bluetooth…quite cool. Turns out I sleep lightly 1/2 the night and soundly the other 1/2. In fact, this remained true every night for 6 nights in a row.

Alright, so my sleep pattern seemed consistent, but what about how much I moved around each day. I went to the gym 5 out of 6 days and found when doing so with light cardio I stepped about 12k per day. Only 8k on non-workout days. Okay…big deal.

Okay, okay…this is why I am returning it. I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t really eat any better. I didn’t take EXTRA walks. I still grilled out every night, walked my dog, played with my kids then relaxed for the evening. I figured if I REALLY wanted to shed the extra 5-10 pounds a silly fitness band wasn’t going to help me be consistent. I’m already (and most humans) a creature of habit.

The return process was easy and I used the money to buy a summer pool pass for the family. Now I can concentrate on memories instead of checking my iPhone app several times a day to make sure I’m taking enough steps.

Stay thirsty my friends,

Derek

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Review

Review: Nike Fuel Band

We bought one…the Nike Fuel Band.

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The Nike Fuel Band does not make me stronger, faster, work out harder or more effectively. It just makes me try. That’s what it is all about, right?

I, along with Becky, have had the Nike Fuel Band for 30 days which I have logged 100,000 Nike Fuel points in that time. I don’t know what Fuel points are, but I feel a sense of accomplishment. Again, that’s what it is about, right.

Staying fit, exercising, running, going to the gym, etc. can really wear on a person (most people anyway). I purchased the Nike Fuel Band to remind me why I exercise and stay active; my kids. I want to be a good example, I want to be active with my kids and I want to be around for a long time.

I’m happy with my purchase, but I’m not sure it’s for everyone since motivation and fitness reminders come in different shapes, sizes and gadgets.

Here’s looking forward to the next 100,000 Fuel points and then on to 1 million!

Later,

Derek

Review

Book Review: The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson

I listen to NPR on my way home from work. During All Things Considered, NPR reviewed the book The Dragon’s Tooth and had the author speak to the premise and characters briefly. I was intrigued about the adventure story but what caught my attention was its setting; Wisconsin. I am proud to be from Wisconsin and decided to pay the $9.99 for the e-book.

The Plot:

The story revolves around 3 teenagers, the Smiths, whom are reeling after losing their father while their mother lay in a coma state. Their possession resides in a run down hotel; The Archer. These kids turn out to have a link to an enchanted and bizarre town in Wisconsin; Ashtown, only entered through a series of tunnels and pathways. The Smith kids, minus 1, are brought to Ashtown via the lawyer of their godfather who gave them a set of keys before he died in a fiery death. The keys purpose are unknown until more details are revealed from members of the Order of Brennan in Ashtown. To claim their godfather’s assets the Smith kids must pass a series of skill tests that are well outside a common teenager skills; flying an airplane as one of the skills.

The Characters:

The Smith kids are well written and their relationships amongst one another are well understood. It is easy to become wrapped up into what their future will be. Daniel the oldest does not play a big part in the book as he was ‘captured’ before entering Ashtown. Antigone, the middle girl, plays a mother type role to Cyrus the youngest boy.

My Recommendation:

I’ll be honest, I was expecting more from this book. I understand this is the first of likely a series of books but the first half of the book was slow moving and once the story entered the mythical land it was not described well enough to fall in love with the setting. Some of the supporting characters were not supported with background information which made them seem insignificant to the plot. My confidence is not entirely lost on this series, but I’ll need to be blown away by the potential of the second story before committing more of my time.

Later,

Derek

Review

Music Review: the Head and the Heart – iTunes Session

I am not an official music reviewer. I just like music that I like. My taste isn’t the same as others.

I opened iTunes a few days ago and came across this image as a Featured Album.

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I had been exposed to the Head and the Heart months earlier through the magic of Pandora. I figured to give it a try as I had some money left on an iTunes gift card ($6.99 for the album).

The Head and the Heart are a band formed in Seattle in 2009 and came together over a period of about 6 months through an open mic venue. The harmonies provided by the two front lead vocals (Josiah and Jonathan) coupled with a strong voice from the only female in the group (Charity) sound as if they have been singing together for decades. They each know exactly when to come into a verse producing a sound that pierces your music-loving nerves. Percussion (Tyler), keyboard (Kenny) and bassist (Chris) round out the sound to create a folk-like rhythm similar to a cross between Crosby, Stills and Nash coupled with Coldplay, Jack Johnson and a touch of the Doors.

Lost in My Mind kicks off this album with an upbeat tune that captures your interest from the beginning. Again, the harmonies by the vocals is something you must hear to experience and the keyboardist (Kenny) plays chords which are Beatle-esque. The song sets the tone for the album and is likely considered the band’s first ‘hit’.

River and Roads starts off as a lonely ballad sung by Jonathan viewing change as something that is happening to him versus for him. He sees rivers and roads as the things separating him from happiness. The sound delivers a nice harmony and then about halfway through Charity delivers a few lyrics that allow you to instantly fall in love with her voice and demand for more.

Down in the Valley begins to round out the album with a melody like something I would find on a Semisonic record but includes poetic verses you might come across in The Doors music as you try to interpret meaning. To me, the song refers to a simpler time where life kind of happens but you don’t need to pay much attention to it. As if it will always be there…

I am the Head and the Heart’s newest fan. The harmonies, poetic lyrics, raw sound and talent of the members make me impatient for their next album. I hope they continue delivering this type of indie-rock music and not change based on popularity…because popularity is coming.

YouTube video:

the Head and the Heart: Lost in My Mind

Later,

Derek