My fitness band desire

I am currently tracking my steps with an app on my now rather old iPhone and finding that it is draining my battery big style. So I have been looking at getting an activity band to wear on my wrist [thereby making the app redundant so that I can a) stop using it and save battery life on my phone, and b) delete it from my phone and free up some space].

I did a bit of research on the various bands, reading reviews and recommendations. I wanted something to track two things [above all else]: steps and sleep! I also wanted the device that I chose to have a good length of time in use, in between each charge of its battery. From my research I narrowed it down to a few bands that were of interest. In a year’s time I think it would be good to remember why exactly I picked the band that I will be wearing (hopefully) still. With that in mind, this is a summary of the information that I gathered and the information from the review’s that I read [Click on the images for more information]:-

Garmin Vivosmart HR

This has good reviews for most functionality, but the heart rate monitor lets it down, in its accuracy. It is an accurate sleep tracker apparently, which really attracted me to it as a go-to purchase. The band is 25.3mm wide, has a battery life of up to 5 days and it is also waterproof up to 5 ATM. Then I found out about the HR+, so thought that I would probably rather have the next model up if it didn’t cost much more. That was this band out of the picture then!

Garmin Vivosmart HR+

I really thought this was the band for me! It has GPS and a sunlight readable touch screen, alongside the step tracking. It is available in purple (so far all the bands that I have looked have been available in a colour somewhat near purple, but this one is really purple!), which is my colour of choice. Like the previous model it can receive smartphone notifications for texts, emails, phone calls and social media. The band is 25.3mm wide, is waterproof to 5 ATM and has an advertised battery life of 5 days. What stopped me buying it? The fact that the band is non-interchangeable meant that it was not the band for me. I like to be able to extend the life of my watches by replacing straps as they wear out, and I anticipated that I would do the same with any activity band that I bought. The fact that this isn’t possible for this band, nor its predecessor, means that these Garmin bands are of no interest to me now.

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

This has a colour touchscreen, GPS and all the usual activity monitoring, as well as smartphone alerts and music control. It has a quoted battery life of 5 days from full charge, charges within 2 hours and has memory enough for 7 days worth of detailed activity tracking. It is also water resistant and has music control functions (if you have music on your phone – I don’t!) And, a big bonus (one of my requirements) is that Fitbit sell accessories and replacement bands for the Blaze. However, given that I want to track my sleep and the quoted dimensions for the watch face are 40mm wide, I didn’t think that I would be comfortable wearing this day AND night, so I excluded this one from the start. I also read in a review that ‘sweat’ stops the heart rate monitor working on some units, which seems to defeat the point in having a unit that has HR functionality, so for the price, I excluded this model.

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Tracker and Sleep Wristband

The Flex comes with TWO wristbands, an instant win there, and it’s battery is purported to last 5 days. It is 14mm wide and looks to fit neatly on the wrist regardless of body size or gender. it is also water resistant (including sweat, like the other water resistant bands). BUT, I don’t like that the only display it has is 5 lights to tell me how I’m doing. This band requires you to check your performance on the app. Sorry, that is not for me!

Fitbit Charge HR Heart Rate and Activity Wristband

The Charge HR tracks your heart rate, steps and sleep. The band is a neat 21mm wide and like other Fitbits is water resistant. This one had a lot of good reviews and seems accurate, though there are a lot of complaints about build quality, the battery and the heart rate monitor. I looked for replacement bands for this one and couldn’t find any, so once again that puts this model out of the picture for me.

Fitbit Alta

I am running out of options now! This one had better give me something!
The Alta band is 15mm wide, it is available in ‘Plum’, replacement bands are available (metal, leather and multi-coloured bands for a wide range of looks). It comes in 3 sizes, including one to fit my tiny wrists. The band is water resistant (sweat, rain and splash proof), it tracks 5 days of detailed motion data and totals for the previous 30 days. Battery life is up to 5 days, and it charges within 2 hours. Notifications can be received from smartphones for calls and text notifications (iPhone 4S and later and leading Android and Windows devices) as well as calendar alerts on the display. The Alta band track steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes and it has Auto Sleep Tracking and Silent Alarms.

I have deduced that if you want a heart rate monitor, for wrist-based versions, the straps are non-replaceable / non-interchangeable, and you would be better off purchasing a chest strap version for accuracy anyway.

Please note that I have not listed all the functionality for any of the bands mentioned, and I have only mentioned negative things that I have picked up from reading reviews made by other individuals. I have not (yet) tried any activity band, whether those mentioned, or other brands. Therefore this blog is just a lot of words taken from other people and the brand websites; and in no way is it a reflection on the products mentioned, whether positive or negative. It is entirely up to each individual to do their own research to determine which product is most appropriate for them (as I have done and noted here).

giffgaff a few months on

I joined giffgaff a few months ago and have decided that the decision was a sound one, on both an economical and experiential basis. I have saved over 50% in monthly fees and have received 150% more data, based on my previous contract with a major telecoms provider.

Both the website and the app are great at keeping me informed about my usage of my allowances; plus towards the end of each ‘goodybag’ I receive an email summarising my usage and recommending the level of goodybag that will give optimum allowances for an appropriate level of expenditure and maintain the service level provisions that I have been using.

There are two ways of buying airtime from GiffGaff: a ‘goodybag’ which gives an allowance for calls / texts / data; or a straightforward ‘pay-as-you-go’ airtime allowance, which is used up as you make use of your phone. Both of these can be tracked through the app and topped up as required.

There are also some freebies when you join GiffGaff; you get:

  • Free call numbers: 0800 / 0808 / 0500
  • Free Facebook text updates
  • Free giffgaff to giffgaff calls/texts for 3 months after a top up.

Also, the more of your contacts who use giffgaff, the more you’ll save in call / text time (due to the free giffgaff to giffgaff calls and texts).

You can add your credit or debit card details to your account and set up a recurring goodybag; or if you prefer, you can buy a goodybag each month and ‘queue’ it, so that it follows on immediately your existing goodybag expires.

did I say that GiffGaff also recommend the best goodybag for you each month, based on your recent usage?

JOIN NOW and if you join via the link below you will get £5 credit and I’ll get £5 Payback

I just joined GiffGaff and I am happy to recommend it to you

I just joined GiffGaff and so far I’m really liking it. 

The culture is friendly and the prices are too. 

Apparently each person can earn payback points by sharing how good GiffGaff is, so here is my share link:- I am only sharing it because so far I’m very content with the service I’ve had from GiffGaff. 

Order from julieshort before the end of May and you’ll automatically be entered into the draw to win a £500 Amazon voucher.

Please order your SIM via the link above link if you also think GiffGaff is worth a try as well.

Remember, you will need to top up by a minimum of £10 to activate your SIM card. But if you order your free giffgaff SIM card through the link above, you will also benefit from an £5 extra credit for free when you activate your SIM.

  At todays prices (May 2015) – the 3G £10 goodybag gives you 500 UK minutesunlimited UK texts and 1 GB Internet for one month. Plus, you will still benefit from free giffgaff to giffgaff calls and texts on top of that.    
 At todays prices (May 2015) – the 4G  £12 goodybag gives you 500 UK minutesunlimited UK texts and 1 GB Internet for one month. Plus, you will still benefit from free giffgaff to giffgaff calls and texts on top of that.

Your queries are answered by agents who have an interest in responding to your queries, so you are more likely to get a result from your questions.

I switched from a business provider who said that there was no ‘customer service’, but so far the response to my searches on GiffGaff have been more useful than that business provider has ever provided.

Winner for GiffGaff then!

Things work out as they’re supposed to…

I’ve believed in this ethos for as long as I can remember.

I can quote examples, such as

not getting a dream job and being absolutely gutted, then landing a job that made a fantastic different to my life and elevated me to a role I would never have achieved if I had succeeded in landing the original position. Or,

being denied reconstruction surgery as I was an unsuitable candidate 5 years before I then went on to hear about an innovative new procedure that was much more appropriate to me, my lifestyle and my body.

Now, I’m looking to replace my car, I know exactly the car that I want and had the opportunity to buy something almost exactly matching my criterion. I went back to look at the car on Sunday, having test driven it the previous weekend. I could tell someone had test driven it and the sale literature was missing from the interior of the car. It was sold!

I was really disappointed, now that it was sold, I really wanted it. However, I realise that although there is nothing available at the moment that offers me such a good package, if I wait a while a better opportunity will come along. I just need to be patient.

So I’m not worrying about my missed opportunity, it was not meant to be and things will work out as they are meant to.

When they do, I’ll let you know

OAuth functionality on Twitter means apps won’t work

I had been using 3 applications on my Nokia N900, using a different one for some of my twitter accounts. Witter for my personal one, Mauku for a fun one and TweeGo for my work-based account. Unfortunately since Twitter removed access for any applications not using OAuth, Mauku and TweeGo have stopped working. I had hoped that the developers would update their application, so that I could keep 3 open at the same time and therefore keep tabs on my different accounts. Unfortunately that is not the case and I now have to relying on Witter and web access now!

Blogging app for N900 – Witter

I’ve been using Witter as my N900 twitter app for some time now. I’ll tell you about it, but you need to bear in mind that Witter’s creator is very proactive as regards modifying and evolving the app.

It is possible to add the apps shortcut to your desktop and as you can see it is a nice W woodcut logo (on the left hand side of the screen print here). I imagine it is a play on the creator’s name – Daniel Would.

Having clicked on the shortcut, Witter loads up to give you your profile page, which shows your tweet count, number of followers, number of people following and your most recent post.

Clicking on the speech bubble takes you to your timeline, or on the magnifying glass to the search window.

As new tweets arrive you receive an alert via a pop up bar which appears across the top third of the screen. Also you get an alert similar to that of an incoming text whenever you get a mention.

Tweets are easy to read and where the tweet is a reply to an unprotected tweet the original tweet is also displayed.

If a particular tweet catches your eye you can do more with it… Touch on it and further options appear…

Reply, Retweet and Favourite are probably the most popular options. Also very useful is the Mentioned Users option…

Here you get the Follow, Unfollow, @ and History buttons which allow you to interact with the tweeter/tweets.

Overall this app is really good. It does glitch from time to time, but it’s not hideous in its behaviour and even a novice can get along with it.

I got Map Loader to work for my Nokia N900

It seems that many people had struggled to connect their N900 to Nokia Map Uploader. I also had struggled and the weekend of July 11 2010 decided I’d take another look. I was pleased to finally resolve this failure after a lot of messing about with various trials. This blog tells you the steps I worked through…

I’d been looking at various blogs and sites to work out how to manage this, but actually taking the plunge and making the manual adjustments was something I had to brace myself for. I am a novice when it comes to ‘mucking about’ with the software and internal doings of my mobile phone and was afraid of ‘bricking’ my N900.

I read this blog [] and the comments made by its readers, particularly Emiliano, Rob (who referred readers to this site – and Woody (who gave instructions for those who have not had problems and for whom it should therefore work first time as he stated)

I also read guidance and blogs from three other N900 users who gave very similar guidance:-

Before starting, I made sure that I had backed up the phone, very thoroughly! I used the phone’s own backup facility to start with and then also manually copied everything on the phone across to my laptop – just to be sure.

I tried with a variation of all of the above three users suggestion, to get the Map Loader working on my N900.

I’d like to borrow from Lloyd’s Blog as he describes the problem well…
Ovi Maps uses a file that is installed in memory when Maps is initially opened and this file is called “qf” (without the quotes). The qf file is stored in the root directory of the internal memory of the N900 but it is called “.qf” (again without the quotes).
This results in Map Loader not being able to recognise the file and so does not update the Maps on the phone.

My first attempt was to follow Emilliano’s advice of:-
Open X Terminal and type in:
cp /home/user/MyDocs/.qf/home/user/MyDocs/qf

However, this alone did not work for me, so I had to trawl the internet some more.
I found david.hicks’ description and worked out that you do have to make the changes to the file while your phone is connected to a PC in Mass Storage mode.

I tried his method of copying the “qf” file, a “.qf” file and the “cities” subdirectory to my external USB drive and Map Loader recognised the file and started updating maps to the external drive. PROGRESS.

Having done that successfully I then found David Lloyds blog and decided to try changing the file name in my phone to “qf” and try again. I followed his advice and disconnected my N900 from the PC and then reconnected in PC Suite mode, opened Map Loader and off we went. SUCCESS.
I have updated my maps successfully and have found using Maps is much better now (though not as good as Symbian versions)

I used:-
Windows 7 Home Premium Version 6.1  32bit
Nokia Map Loader Version
My N900 had Maomo 5 Version 10.2010.19-1

I hope that you find this useful if you are still struggling with Map Loader and your N900.

Nokia N900 – OS upgrade PR1.2

I’ve tried over several days to upgrade my Nokia N900 and not succeeded until today.

Initially, I couldn’t get the upgrade to work OTA (Over The Air) – the upgrade option OTA was not available and I was instructed to use the NSU (Nokia Software Updater) on my pc. However, no matter how many times I tried it, I got a message (poor quality screen print below) saying that the NSU had tried 3 times and was unable to update the software. I was getting very down about this, especially as I had also tried doing the upgrade on my OH’s super fast gaming PC.

These are my facebook posts as I attempted the upgrade..

Sunday 30 May 2010 about 17:30

Maahir I too get that error, will try deleting tuxrace as well and report back (I’ve already disable most catalogues in the update library) [One of the other facebook users on the forum posted the picture above and another user had deleted tuxrace game which enabled the upgrade for them]

Sunday 30 May 2010 about 17:35
Bah, still can’t get it to work and I don’t have enough knowledge to us the other route suggested on here 😦 . [Other forum users described using Linux codes (apt-get distro-upgrade) or Maemo Flasher, which as of yet I have no knowledge or experience of]

Sunday 30 May 2010 about 17:45
Just restarted the N900 and I now have the option to do an OTA update, which I didn’t have before I deleted the largest software apps on the phone (tuxrace 64Mb and stellarium 28MB), it’s just downloading 113.1MB OTA now. Watch this space

Sunday 30 May 2010 about 18:22
The update has worked, after downloading the OTA via my wireless connection, it installed the software, restarted itself and continued upgrading. I then got the confirmation message. Most of my desktop widgets and shortcuts have disappeared, so I need to spend some time reinstating them. Will do backup and then re-enable my catalogues so that I can upgrade all the apps that have been waiting for the Maemo upgrade. Good luck with your own upgrades everyone.

Sunday 30 May 2010 about 18:28
I take it back, the widgets and shortcuts are still there. Anyway backup is done, so on to updating my other apps

N900 apps – Zoutube

I’ve been trying out Zoutube on the Nokia N900, mainly to find sites that offer decent cultural recipes. I’ve managed to find a good source of Indian recipes using the search function, though by going through the different directories built-in to Zoutube I’ve not been that successful.
Once I get to the point of viewing the video I am able to select the video quality, unfortunately the only option is “Bad Quality”! I ask you, who wants to watch bad quality video. The programmers may as well have left this off.
Once you find a feed that you like you can click on the top menu bar and select “Add this feed to gPodder”, which if you have installed will allow you to keep an eye on the feed for updates and download as required.
Overall, it’s been quite useful, but does need that video quality option fixing.
At the moment I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5

Mauku – The Micro-blogging Client for Nokia N900

Mauku is a micro-blogging app available on general release for the Nokia N900. The version I’ve been happily testing (on my new N900) for about a week now is Mauku 2.0 beta 4.
Having installed Mauku, ‘Publishers’ (and for Publisher, read account) are created via an option in the top bar of the app , once this is done Mauku jumps straight to the ‘Overview’ page and starts retrieving your tweets. I’ve found this to be very quick and efficient and am happy to see that avatar pictures are included in tweets.
I did find that making a typo in the setting up of ‘Publishers’ means that you need to recreate the Publisher again from scratch if it is to be displayed exactly as desired. There are functions to Unsubscribe and Delete Publishers, and while I have managed the Unsubscribe option to remove the updates from my Overview screen, the Delete function refuses to work for me. I’m not a techy person on the whole and despite looking into this the only solution I appear to have found is to “delete the backend database with X Terminal by entering the command:
rm -R /home/user/.microfeed
to allow new Publishers to be created from scratch. I’m still trying to work out how to do this, so can’t give you any guidance on this one. Meanwhile I continue to live with extraneous accounts in my list that I can’t get rid of and find really irritating.
Something else that it has taken me a while to discover is why some tweets are coloured yellow and some are coloured blue. Apparently, blue is the default colour for a normal tweet and replies are coloured yellow. Also there is a little callout in the bottom right corner of some tweets, advertising how many replies have been made to that tweet – quite useful I thought.
Tapping on a tweet allows you to quickly select options associated with a tweet, Reply, Forward (aka ReTweet), Open sender, Open link or Mark (as Favourite). Creating a tweet is a simple action from the initial Welcome screen where you are given the option of ‘New message’. Once you are typing your tweet you also get the option to select from which account you wish to tweet, or even all of them if you prefer.
The app runs smoothly and quickly compared with others that I have previously tried on my N95. One thing I do miss though is the ability to click on a link to an image and see a preview instantly – Mauku forces you to visit the website where the image is stored, which is a bit slow, AND disappointing.
There is a ‘Contacts’ page accessible from the welcome screen, but for me this has never worked, despite leaving it running for several minutes. It could be that downloading contacts for two Twitter accounts is too much for it to cope with, within my attention span. It is certainly something that needs addressing within the next build of the app.
Overall, I’ve been fairly satisfied with Mauku as an app that allows me to access Twitter while I’m out and about. I mark tweets I want to come back to and use Tweetdeck on my PC to check up on further details when I’m back at base.
More details are available at