Category Archives: Technology

Serial and The Urban Commute

I still don’t feel ready for Christmas, but I DO have most of my presents purchased, I’ve got one batch of cookies baked and frozen, and our tree still looks gorgeous.

I also officially started my new job on Monday, so I’ve been a little distracted. I went from working at a manufacturing company that deals in renewable energy to a retail company known for their high quality children’s clothing. I underestimated the learning curve that comes with entering a completely different industry, but I’m LOVING my new situation (FYI, I fully intend on blogging some job interview tips…one of the few skills I am really confident in). My second day of work, I was challenged to a Nerf shoutout by the CEO, and I already feel like I’m doing some REAL work.

Along with this new job comes a new commute. To downtown Portland. On public transportation. Everyone talked a big game like this was going to be horrible, but I’m choosing to view it as extra free time every day to read or dink around on my iPad. Or listen to Serial.

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I’ve been reading about the Serial podcast for a while, since I’m an avid NPR fan. Serial is a 12-episode true crime story, basically. And considering I plan my Friday nights around episodes of Dateline (#Iheartkeithmorrison), it is right up my alley. I’ve binge-listened to 6 episodes since Monday, with 6 more to go, and I’m totally hooked. It is 100% living up to the hype for me. Have you listened? What do you think so far?

I need to take pictures of my walk from the train station to my office. To me, there’s nothing better than a city in the early morning before it has really woken up that’s just magical. There are a few food carts serving breakfast. The sun is rising over the bridges and Mt. Hood. I might get tired of the commute eventually, but for now, I’m loving it. Plus we are moving offices to a place with free parking next year so it’s temporary.

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App Review – Fitocracy

So I try not to be addicted to my iPhone, but thus far, I have failed. There are, literally, apps for everything (making your own motivational slideshows, tracking your “cycles,” making fart noises, putting weird stickers on your photos…the list goes on forever), and there are a large number of health and fitness apps with growing popularity.

One app I stumbled upon, Fitocracy, is actually getting some consistent use in my data plan. The Fitocracy app, an iPhone interface for http://www.fitocracy.com/, markets itself as a kind of Facebook for fitness.

You can make friends and join groups, like Facebook, though all of the groups I’m in (CrossFit, Paleo, No Barbie Weights) have active posters, UNLIKE Facebook. After creating a user profile, you can log your workouts in a fairly user-friendly interface.

The list of activities to choose from is extensive, and they continue to add to it. You can also enter your own moves, or, many times, find something comparable. You can search for exercises by muscle group or equipment needed, which is also helpful. I haven’t had much of a problem logging my CrossFit WODs in detail. After submitting your workout, Fitocracy uses a mysterious calculation system to give you a certain number of points (based on intensity, length of workout, cardio versus strength, etc.). Then you…wait for it…LEVEL UP!

Everything is made better with a little leveling and friendly competition. If you get super involved with the app/site, it serves as pretty good motivation. On top of the fun level system, there are also QUESTS to be completed!

Above is a screenshot of some of my completed quests. The completion is based on what you log in your workout (for instance, I did a 5K a few weeks back, and got that bonus 100 points from the “Finally 5K” challenge).

It might seem a little hokey, but there’s many positive to Fitocracy, in my opinion. The main pro is that it’s easy to log workouts without manually typing in every movement and rep. Most of the exercises you can choose from have scalable options where you can enter weight used, whether or not you used assistance, what type of terrain you were running on, etc. This is a luxury not found in many other workout logs I’ve tried. Second, it’s fun to have the social aspects of Facebook in a community of people that actually care about what you’re talking about. The users of Fitocracy are active, always posing questions to their groups, complimenting others on their progress, and sharing knowledge in a collective interface.

Honestly, the only con is that, occasionally, I’m so tired after a workout I forget to log it. Will I use this forever? Probably not. Is it motivating and fun for the time being? Definitely!

If you were to look at my workout log from today, here is what you would see:

1 mile run (10:32)

100 double unders

50 weighted sit-ups (made a valiant effort at 25 lbs. but was down to 10 lbs. by the end of the WOD)

50 v-ups

50 hollow rocks

50 GHD sit-ups

Total time (run included) of 34:32, and a big ol’ ab kicking. I hope no one makes me laugh tomorrow!

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