So I have finally succumbed. I am now quantifying myself.
This is my current setup
I decided to start with measuring my fitness, weight and blood pressure as I wanted to lose weight and my blood pressure is bit too high.
I bought a Fitbit One wireless activity tracker, an Omron MIT Elite Plus upper arm blood pressure monitor with download facility and I already had an unconnected set of Salter bathroom scales
The Fitbit tracker communicates wirelessly with a USB dongle on my PC and the Omron connects via a USB cable. At the moment I have to manually enter my weight readings into Fitbit.com
I wanted all the data to end up in Microsoft’s HealthVault along with my main health records. The Omron does this quite successfully via the HealthVault Connect software running on my PC. But the Fitbit tracker doesn’t yet talk to HealthVault. It does in the US but not yet in the UK (it is coming we are told). At the moment I have to manual enter my weight readings into Fitbit.com
To help with losing weight I needed to measure the calories I was consuming against the calories I was burning. I chose MyFitnessPal to keep a record of the food I was consuming (and hence calories I was consuming) as it had a really excellent database of UK foods and would interoperate with Fitbit.com. Thus I could see the calories burned compared with the calories consumed in both Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. Fitbit does have this facility to record foods consumed but it is based on a US database of foods.
Could I have chosen better connected devices?
Well yes! For a start I could have bought a Fitbit Aria bathroom scales and auto fed my weight to Fitbit.com over wifi.
An example of a more comprehensive connected set up would be the NFC enabled devices from A&D. With an NFC enabled mobile phone you can just touch your device with your phone and transfer all the data to Microsoft HealthVault. A&D have NFC enabled Activity Monitor, Bathroom Scales and Blood pressure Monitor.
Microsoft have a good HealthVault Blog item ‘Making Self Monitoring Easier’ about this interconnected system.
Could I have done all this – lose weight, lower my blood pressure and get fitter without any of these devices? But of course – but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun. There is nothing more motivating than seeing all those readouts.
I have been recording the output from my solar PV panels monthly since they were installed back in July 2010. I wrote a blog item about my solar PV rig and published my performance chart on Google.
But I have never been able to compare my charts with anybody else’s chart.
Now a new service has arisen OnYourRoof which lets me do just that.
All I need do is enter my meter readings and voila I have a chart comparing my panel performance with other similar panels in the area.
To see my chart compared with others visit my Page at OnYourRoof.com and then click on any of the panel details.
I hope this post will encourage others to enter their details as the more details the better and the more useful the comparison becomes. Let me know if you sign up – then I can take a sneak peak
Posted in Sustain
Tagged PV, Solar
The long running saga of getting my Flickr photos on my photo frame finally leads to a result.
As I predicted in ‘Flickr on my photo frame Part 2’ the Google Nexus 7 tablet has proved to be a stunner and all for £159.
So I didn’t need to buy another photo frame or subscribe to another service to replace the defunct framechannel.com I now have a superb screen on which to display my photos – when it’s not in use as my news reader and video player.
I also predicted there would be an Android photo app that I could use to to slideshow a selection of my Flickr photos. Well there is. I am now using FlickFolio. It allows me to select by collection, set, tag, gallery, favourites, groups, contacts and bingo its sits there pretending to be a photo frame.
All I need now is a upright stand that also acts as my Nexus 7 protective cover when moving it around. There is an ideal one available from Amazon the G-HUB PropUp case
In addition to all this convenient functionality it turns out that the authors of FlickFolio, Snapwood Apps, also have apps for Facebook photos, Picasa, Photobucket, SkyDrive and others – bargain.
Furthermore with the correct app loaded the Nexus 7 will be DLNA compatible. I will then be able to show photos off my network and/ or ‘throw’ photos at my TV for big screen viewing. I have been using Bubble UPnP on my Android mobile so will experiment with it on my Nexus 7 for a while.
Note: There always seem to be some issues with DLNA so it’s a case of trying several apps to see which one best suits the devices on your LAN and the formats of the media you want to share (throw around).
Flickr on my photo frame 2
My Flickr photos on my WiFi photo frame
Having decided in May not to wait for YouView and Google TV am I now regretting that decision to buy the Sony Media Player? No I don’t think so. Humax have a YouView/ Freeview HD recorder box DTR-1000 see the offer at John Lewis for £299.95 It looks good but I might just have to wait until my existing Freeview box is ready for replacement
Google TV on a Sony box. The NSZ-GS7 sounds a great idea but isn’t it just android in a box with Chrome browser – see BBC article. You can pre-order from Sony here. It will cost £199 whereas my Sony media player box only cost £79.
My home media network is already set up for DLNA compatibility. My recently arrived new Google Nexus 7 Tablet will be able to ‘throw’ music at my TV and other devices – with the right app – and will only cost me £159.
Then Google throws in a googly the Nexus Q an enigmatic box (sphere) that pulls everything direct from the Google Play store although its not available in the UK see PC World article It also needs an Android Smartphone or Tablet to operate it. We’ll wait and see how that pans out.
So am I going to be missing out? I don’t think so
Why wait for YouView or Google TV
My multi-room media shifting set-up
I knew as soon as I decided not to wait for YouView or GoogleTV that there would be an announcement and sure enough TalkTalk announced that YouView would be ready about September which incidentally is about when GoogleTV is expected in the UK according to the Telegraph.
So if I am not going to wait which box should I go for. There are so many to choose from. There’s the Roku , the Boxee, Apple TV, WD TV Live to name but a few. A lot depends on whichInternet services (channels) you want access to, remembering that the channels in the UK differ from those in the US.
In the end I went for the new SONY network media and internet streamer the SMP-N200 which was only recently released and only £80 at Amazon.
The channels that Sony in the UK provide access to are shown in this interactive graphic
So if I was to ditch my laptop mashup what was I wanting from my box?
- Well it would be nice just to have a small box that is always in situ ready to roll and was a lot less expensive than a laptop or nettop.
- All I really needed was a half decent movie service. With the Sony I could get LoveFilm Instant for £4.99 a month and Sony Entertainment Network for PAYG movies.
- Oh and any CatchUp TV services I could get. The Sony gives me access to BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 & the possibility of ITV player and 4OD to follow.
- Access to YouTube channels would be good too and with the Sony I can sign into my YouTube.
- Maybe even some social media? The Sony has Facebook and Twitter. I would have liked access to Flickr and/or Picassa but you can’t have everything can you?
- What about access to my NAS (LaCie LaCinema HD) where I store my photos, music and videos – it can do that as well.
- Does it do DLNA so I can pick up media on one device an play it on another.? Yes it does that too. See the item My multi-room media shifting set-up on this blog
- What about an Android app to manage the box and my network media. Yes it has that as well the Sony Media remote. Although I prefer a combination of the very neat Sony remote control and the much less bloated BubbleUPnP for catch and throw.
Everything was going so well. I could view a sequence of my photos from flickr and from my friends on Facebook interspersed with National Geographic photos, the Weather and Clock/ Calendar – see my earlier blog. Then Framehannel withdrew from the market and not only Framechannel but Frameit.livecom as well.
So all of a sudden I was left with whatever Kodak had to offer. OK so they have a site at which I could store my photos and view them on my photo frame, but who uses Kodak’s site for storing and displaying their photos. Friends could still email my photo frame directly but none could be bothered. I had to resort to viewing my photos stored on my NAS drive my LaCie LaCinema – see my blog item My multi-room media shifting set-up
Thus began my search for another cloud service or suitable wifi photoframe. Toshiba, Kodak and Samsung all had photo frames which could use the now defunct Framechannel. So what’s left:
- Kodak Pulse and Sony W frames use Facebook
- Samsung frames use Windows Live & RSS feed
But no-one was offering Flickr
MeeChannel with MeeFrame
However I have discovered another service that although not directly similar to Framechannel would allow me to access a whole load of my social network content on a photo frame. That service is Meechannel.com It’s a Dutch service (use Google Translate in Google Chrome to read it) and is in Beta, but looks very promising.
It gathers together all your Photo, Video, RSS streams and makes them accessible from one stream. What’s more is that they even have a photo frame the Looqs MeeFrame specifically to stream content from MeeChannel. It can be bought in the UK from Langton Info Services
So with this service I could stream my Flickr (or Picasa) photos, the weather and clock/ calendar but not photos from my Facebook or my friends’ Facebook.
Top Ten Reviews of WiFi photo frames for 2012 puts the Kodak Pulse at No3 and Meeframe at No 4
What about a Tablet
What I would prefer is to be able to access MeeChannel from my Kodak Easyshare photo frame. It would seem a shame to have to buy another one.
Would you want to spend about £200 on a touch screen photo frame when there rumours that there could soon be a cheap Android tablet on the market. I could then use the tablet as a photo frame when not using it for surfing the web and accessing my emails and social networks. I would need an app that could run a stream of photos.
Note that this blog is UK based so the content is directed at services that are accessible from UK or products that can be bought in the UK. There are other photo frames that can access Flickr but they are not available in the UK. The comparison site Top Ten Reviews puts Ceiva Share and Pix-Star FotoConnect at No1 and No 2. Both can access Facebook, Flickr and Picasa but neither can be bought in the UK.
Yes I know it sounds a bit mad but in the UK you will soon be able to courtesy of SONY.
According to Stuff.TV Sony will be bringing their NS510, NS410 and NS310 speakers to the UK in the summer of 2012.
Sony will enable you to select music from your PC, smartphone or network drive and ‘throw’ it at their speakers.
This is possible because all three speakers accept streaming via DLNA, Airplay (Apple’s own version) or Music Unlimited (Sony’s rival to Spotify).
For me this is fantastic news (until I find out the price that is) as I have already set up my home media network to be DLNA compatible where possible. See my earlier blog item My multi-room media shifting network
I can already ‘throw’ my music from my LaCie LaCinema to my TV, PC or smartphone. Now I will be able to throw it at some decent speakers anywhere in the house and even different music to different speakers.
Roll on the summer