Healthy Metrics & Tools

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure" is a management adage typically attributed to W. Edwards Deming.  Well it’s as true for business as it is for our health.

Elevation Graph
Elevation Graph from Trailguru

In my role as a senior manager in a large corporation, I use metrics all the time in my work*.  I’ve now undertaken the challenge of applying this same approach to my health statistics.  It will not only help me manage and hopefully improve my health, but will be fun in that I get to try out new tools and technologies and share what I find as I go.

Now not everything will be electronic, after all, you’re talking to a guy that carries a fountain pen and Moleskine in addition to an iPhone.  It’s an experiment, and will evolve as I try different approaches and hopefully get suggestions from readers.

  • Health Log – An analog way of keeping track of food, exercise, sleep and medical statistics.  Paperback and about 5×8” (conveniently the same size as my Moleskine), it’s light and not too difficult to keep on a desk or carry in the car.  I picked it up on a lark in a stationary store in Mammoth Lakes about a year ago, more for the visual design than for the content. I’ll probably go electronic at some point, but it’s cheap and doesn’t run out of batteries.
  • DailyPlate.com – So how many calories were in that In-N-Out Cheeseburger? This site can tell you (480) along with plenty of other common food items.  It’s been a great way to estimate calories, fat and carb content when nutrition labels are absent.  It also provides all sorts of other tools, but I’m not a member of the site.
  • FatWatch – An iPhone application that tracks and graphs your weight.  Aside from how I feel, how well my pants fit, and how good my wife says I look, it’s the most available metric to monitor.
  • Trailguru – An iPhone 3G application and corresponding website that utilizes your phone’s GPS capability to record and plot your outings. It has great statistics such as duration, distance, and ascent as well as charts (see above), map plots and photos you take along the way.  And inspired by Fourmilab, I’ve taken to posting my daily walks on Twitter.

* Note: I’m not really a numbers guy.  In fact, I believe more strongly in leadership, relationships, and continuos learning–but in a large corporation metrics quantify your success.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Albert Einstein

iPhone Touchscreen Dead Spot; What to do?

So I stood in line for the first iPhone back in June 2007.  In fact, my girlfriend did as well (me at the Apple Store and her at the AT&T store to ensure I got one; we reached the front of each line simultaneously).  I didn’t camp out.  In fact, I wanted to wait a couple weeks, but alas, we were leaving on a long trip the next day.  As it turns out, I was delighted to have the device with me on the trip.  I quickly fell in love with the phone (oh, and I married that girlfriend).

A year later, the 3G phone came out and I was planning to skip a generation.  I really didn’t have a compelling need for 3G or GPS, and besides, I could get Apps on my FirstGen following the firmware upgrade.  Which I did.  It didn’t take long, however, for my faith to get shaken in the whole franchise.

Suddenly, a patch of my touch screen stopped working (on travel mind you, not exactly convenient considering the island I was on didn’t have an Apple Store).  No matter what I did, from software resets to finger gymnastics, I couldn’t get it to respond.  And worse yet, it was the portion of the screen at the bottom where you swipe it to unlock it.

Note: This screenshot is from a 3G phone, my problematic device is a first generation Edge iPhone.

When I brought it in to the local Apple Store to seek repair, I was informed that my warranty expired one week prior and that my only option would be to purchase a new 3G phone.  Well, needless to say I wasn’t happy.  I was an early adopter (had my $100 credit to prove it) and sold countless others with demos of the phone in those first few months.  I’ve been a loyal Apple customer for decades (since my Mac Plus in 1986) and this is what I’m stuck with?  A defective phone after 53 weeks?

Well, I wasn’t happy but my only option was the new phone–which I bought, have loved, but handle gingerly (always clothed in rubber, screen protectors, you name it).  This screen better last!  Anyhow, I pitched the old one into a box and tried to forget about the whole fiasco.

It’s only recently I wondered if I could use the old one for anything, knowing I can’t swipe to unlock it or use the (fairly important) icons on the bottom strip.  I’m thinking that if I can reorder icons strategically, I might be able to have myself a 8GB video iPod, a 3.5" digital picture frame, or a $500 digital alarm clock.

Any suggestions?

It’s been 20 years, but I’ve returned to model rocketry with a successful mission (dubbed “Mercury 1’”) that included five launches, one rocket, two video cameras (one in HD), three still cameras, three GMRS radios, one fire extinguisher, and two dogs.  Total cost: $42.27.

The first test launch, with a small B motor, is captured in this video and includes footage in slow motion and from our “pad cam” (parachute deployment is discernable near apogee).

Time permitting, I will post the other launches (which triple the altitude and land much further downrange) and some good outtakes.

And for those who’d like participate in Mercury 2, I highly recommend Hobby People in Camarillo.  Stay tuned for mission updates.