Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Techie toys’ Category

Good walk

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Now that I am walking longer and faster, the training effect has really taken hold. Today:

3.07 miles
52 minutes 10 seconds
3.54 mph
110 steps/minute
33″ stride (average)
5765 steps

My daily goal is 6000 steps, and 6000 steps in the walk alone would be nice, so I might after a while extend the length of the walk another quarter-mile or so. Or maybe extend the time, so that I do a 1-hour walk. It’s gotten pleasant now: good weather for walking, and I am fit enough now so that the walk is not a strain.

I do use Nordic walking poles, of course, which makes the walk more enjoyable and also a better exercise (since it becomes a full-body exercise, with the arms, shoulders, and upper back involved — plus using the poles improves my walking posture. The map and tracking info is from my Amazfit GTS 4 Mini.

Written by Leisureguy

29 September 2022 at 3:01 pm

My take on the Amazfit GTS 4 Mini

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I finally decided to replace my Amazfit Band 5 because it was unreliable in measuring heart rate, which it used to compute the PAI score for a workout. So I ordered what I believe is the most recent model, the Amazfit 4. It comes as either GTS 4 or GTR 4 and I pored over the specs to find the difference — until I finally realized “S” = square and “R” = round. Since I like a digital readout, the GTS 4 seemed the better choice (see photo, which illustrates the particular watch face I use). The GTS 4 comes in regular or “Mini,” and I went with Mini: cheaper and a little lighter and does all I could want. 

I love it. The readout is much more legible to my (somewhat poor) eyes, and because it is bigger, the battery also can be bigger, so much better battery life. And the heart-rate readout so far seems totally reasonable and reliable — as in fact the Band 5 readout become once I moved the band a little up my arm: two finger-widths above the wrist instead of one. But by the time I discovered that, I had already ordered the replacement, and I like the GTS 4 Mini a lot better.

I did try a Huawei Watch Fit 2, but I did not like that and returned it. I really like the Zepp app on my iPhone that connects with the Amazfit products.

I’ve done my walk for today, and getting good PAI results is motivating. I’ll stick with 2.0 miles for another week, and then I’m going to bump it up to 2.5 miles to get my step goal (6000 steps).

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2022 at 12:52 pm

Walking progress — and Amazfit Band 5 discovery

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I would like to get my average speed back to where it was before the break: 3.5 mph. I’m getting there. 

The big discovery is how to get the Amazfit Band 5 to take more accurate readings of my heart rate. The original instructions said to place the Band 5 one finger-width above the wrist. That is the position where I got erratic readings. 

I got a note from Amazfit support that said to place the Band 5 two finger-widths above the wrist, and that is what I did today. Today my walk rate 37 PAI. Yesterday essentially the same walk (though 1.5 minutes slower) was 4 PAI.

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20 September 2022 at 2:16 pm

World’s Most Advanced Hydrofoil Boats Fly Above Water

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11 June 2022 at 4:21 pm

This summer try using a solar oven

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Annie Ewbank has a fascinating article in Gastro Obscura:

This week, I’ve given myself both a sunburn and a crash course in solar cooking. 

This culinary vacation from my kitchen started when I unearthed a strange cardboard contraption in the attic. It looked like a flattened box, but unfolding it revealed printed instructions on one side and a gleaming, chrome-painted lining on the other. 

The device was a solar oven. Specifically, a CooKit, a cardboard oven created by Solar Cookers International, a non-profit based in Sacramento, California. Solar ovens are more than science fair experiments. For decades, SCI has used them to fight all manner of social, economic, and environmental ills, from the respiratory illnesses caused by smokey cookfires to the high price of fuel.

The CooKit solved one issue for me this week: how to cook during a heatwave without heating up the house. The last few days, I’ve roasted vegetables and baked cakes in my backyard. Sure, each dish took twice as long as usual, but they required no more attention than adjusting the oven every so often to follow the sun.

Solar cooking has been around for hundreds of years, but the case for it (no fuel, zero pollutants, no need to use an indoor stove during ever-hotter summers) is stronger than ever. Could this be the dawn of a new era of cooking?

Sunny Science

In Enlightenment-era Switzerland, a Renaissance man by the name of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure had a space-age idea. In 1767, the mountaineer-physicist-meteorologist layered together sheets of glass to create the first solar oven, even hauling the contraption up and down the Alps to test it at different altitudes and temperatures.

The following centuries saw a slew of inventors follow in his footsteps. They used glass, reflectors, and curved mirrors to direct light to a focal point, such as a pot. The pot absorbs heat, which is trapped by a glass or plastic cover.

Though solar-oven cooking takes longer than the average stove, the heat is so low and even that there’s no need to stir or even monitor the food. Burning food in a solar oven is almost impossible.

Even in the early days of solar power, people recognized its potential. Mountaineers and militaries have constantly experimented with solar cooking over the years, since there’s no need to haul heavy fuel with a solar oven on hand. 

Many restaurateurs have also used it as a compelling draw. During the Qing dynasty, a Chinese mathematician used mirrors and reflectors to start a sun-roasted duck business. Today, restaurants in ArmeniaChile, and Thailand all cook with sun power.

Solar Cookers For All

There’s about 2.6 billion people worldwide who are cooking over open fires, which is incredibly harmful to people’s individual and family health, as well as our planet.

People who are cooking this way don’t have other choices. They have to cut down trees, which also contributes to climate change and deforestation. And so when we are able to offer the solution of solar-thermal cooking, people can cook with no emissions and no pollutants. 

What is your day-to-day like at SCI?

Solar Cookers International has . . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more.

See also: The Best Solar Ovens for 2022.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2022 at 3:38 pm

Good walk

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I’m not sure why that drop in heart rate, but I imagine it’s simply that the Amazfit Band 5 lost track of my pulse. As you can see from the chart at the right my walking speed did not drop. Average cadence was 109 steps per minute, and my stride was a little longer than usual to get that speed with that cadence: 34″ stride on average.

I got only 8 PAI this time, when my previous walk on this route, at 3.59 mph average speed, I earned 29 PAI. So it goes. The important thing is that I’m getting out and walking. 

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14 May 2022 at 4:29 pm

Mild walk

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Not much of a walk — 6 PAI — but I was feeling a bit lethargic. Beautiful day, though, and perhaps tomorrow I’ll have more energy. 

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13 May 2022 at 4:16 pm

A shorter walk, but more PAI

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So yesterday I walked 2.7 miles for 20 PAI, and today 1.5 miles for 30 PAI. The difference, of course, is in the heart rate as detected by the Amazfit Band 5, which seems somewhat erratic in detection. But my total PAI now is 119, so I’m good. And I’ll just keep walking regularly.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2022 at 4:20 pm

A reasonable walk

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PAI points are now more difficult to gain, and when 41 points expired one day, I simply could not walk enough to make it up. I did a 3.8 mile walk and got only 15 points, so I dropped below 100 for the first time since Feb 18 (of this year).

That was on 5/6, and in fact the day before I just scraped by with 101 PAI, a day I earned 14 PAI for a 3.7 mile walk. 

So I decided not to worry about PAI. I figured the important thing is that I’m getting out and walking, and on the whole that is beneficial. Moreover, the fact that PAI points are more difficult to acquire is in itself a good sign since it means that I am getting to be more fit.

Plus I do enjoy the walk (and more so now that I am fitter), especially with the benefit of using Nordic walking poles. They do greatly improve the walk experience.

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8 May 2022 at 4:28 pm

Truckla: A pick-up conversion of a Tesla

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7 May 2022 at 4:33 pm

I’m not blogging much — as you may have noticed

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Occasionally something will catch my eye that I think is worth sharing — that is, worth your time to read — but nowadays I often avert my gaze from the amazing dumpster fire that is underway in American politics and culture wars. Comment seems superfluous and useless.

So my attention has turned more toward my daily activities: making food (tempeh, fermented vegetables), cooking food, enjoying my walks, doing some reading, and watching movies and videos.

Today’s walk

I do enjoy my walks, though today my Amazfit Band 5 kept pausing in the middle of the workout, sometimes restarting itself, sometimes requiring me to restart it. Highly irritating. But then, thanks to Google, I found that the feature Auto-Pause, on by default, can be turned off. I have done that.

Today it was lightly raining, but I needed 13 PAI to maintain my streak of 100 PAI days, so I went for a walk. It turns out that Nordic walking poles work pretty well in the rain — occasionally a pole would slip on the pavement instead of gripping it, but the slips were only about 10% of the time, probably less.

I kept the rain off my glasses and my face by wearing my Sun Precautions wide-brimmed hat — one something like this. And a windbreaker kept me dry enough. The rain was light. And I got my 13 PAI, with 1 more for good measure. (Tomorrow I’m going to need 41, so that will be quite a walk indeed.)

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5 May 2022 at 4:41 pm

Good walk, few points

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The ways of PAI are mysterious, but I presume the lower score — 7 points for a walk that last time got 41 points and the time before that 15 points. I don’t get it, but I am getting the exercise and it does seem somewhat easier. But not that much easier. Still, no point in whinging about it. I’ll just take the walk tomorrow and see what it is then.

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1 May 2022 at 3:29 pm

A satisfying video of machining

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30 April 2022 at 10:14 am

Same walk as yesterday, but 41 PAI instead of 15

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Yesterday the time was 45:09 and average speed was 3.48 mph, but the big difference was in the measured heart rate: yesterday average was 110 bpm and max was 149 bpm. 

Still, the important thing is the effect on my fitness, not the numbers on the app.

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 4:27 pm

Only 15 PAI after 2.6 miles in 45 minutes?!

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So it goes. But I’m suspicious of the reading. Take a look at the heart rates (above right), and then note the graph of the altitude along the walk route.

First, you’ll notice at the bottom of the image at the right that I maintained a steady cadence of around 112 steps/minute, and that my average speed was 3.48 mph, a decent clip. 

More important, note the altitude: I had a fairly good climb the first 13 minutes or so of the walk, then it was downhill for 13 minutes, the basically flat. 

So you would expect heart rate to rise during the climb, then hold steady or fall on the downhill and level parts of the walk. Instead, the heart rate held steady for the climb and the descent and only accelerated in the last 10 minutes of the walk, when it abruptly shot up and then held steady around 135 bpm.

I’ve seen this pattern before, and I think it is due to the exercise tracker not finding a good pulse reading until near the end of the walk.

Still, I got the exercise, and though it is only 15 PAI instead of (say) 43 PAI, that means that a week from now I’ll lose only 15 PAI and not 43 PAI. 

Even though the Amazfit Band 5 occasionally doesn’t pick up a good reading on my pulse rate, that has really been its only drawback, and I do very much like all the information it provides.

I particularly like the way it displays my route, which can be as a map (above) or satellite view (at left). 

And the PAI readings, for all their occasional misfiress, have been greatly motivating. As I have mentioned previously, this was a gift from The Eldest, and it has supercharged my exercise walks. The only thing comparable to this degree of motivational improvement was getting Nordic walking poles — and those were a suggestion from The Eldest. I had never heard of them (and in fact I first purchased trekking poles in error, not knowing the difference — which was the motivation for my post on Nordic walking).

Although I had been thinking of a 4-mile route, this 2.6 mile route seems pretty good and does deliver (usually) a good number of PAI points. And 45 minutes is a good duration. Greger’s Daily Dozen calls for 40 minutes of vigorous exercise, and despite the heart-rate readings above, I think this counts. And I know I’m getting at least the recommended amount of PAI.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 4:43 pm

A no-jacket walk: 55ºF, very light breeze

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Nice walk. First mile I did in 17 minutes on the dot (mostly uphill), second mile in 16 minutes 38 seconds. Cadence averaged 112 steps per minute, stride averaged 30 inches. Garnered 44 PAI points. 

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22 April 2022 at 3:55 pm

Yet another good walk, with cadence of 113 steps/minute

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Good walk at a brisk speed on a overcast day that was a little chilly. 

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20 April 2022 at 1:15 pm

31-point walk

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Not a bad walk, though I could tell my fitness had ebbed a it from the three days off. Today, however, is lovely, and I enjoyed the walk. The heart-rate chart looks reasonable and a close match to my perceived effort. 

I’ve mentioned that the trick with the Amazfit and PAI is to begin by raising your heart rate quickly — in my case, by walking briskly uphill with Nordic walking poles — and then maintain the rate by continuing brisk (but less strenuous) exercise (though I continue walking briskly, it’s not uphill, so it’s easier). 

The chart at the right shows the walk altitude (y-axis) vs. time (x-axis). As you can see, there’s a big uphill right at the outset (from home up to Douglas), but the rest of the walk is downhill and then flat — but my heart rate stays elevated because I maintain a pace of 3.5 mph — and, I imagine, because of using Nordic walking poles, which increase calorie expenditure by 20%, which means more exertion (and thus demand on the heart rate), even though the increased effort is imperceptible to the walker — indeed, the poles seem to make it easier, increasing speed and stride.

The 31 PAI points is welcome since tomorrow 41 points drop off my 7-day cumulative total. With the 31 points, my cumulative total right now is 146, so I’ll still be above 100, as I have been each day since February 28. And, of course, I’ll walk again tomorrow.

Written by Leisureguy

19 April 2022 at 2:04 pm

Same walk as yesterday, 19 PAI instead of 43

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Mysterious. Yesterday’s walk was 1.51 miles at 3.10 mph; today’s 1.55 miles at 3.67 mph. (Yesterday’s slow average speed was because of a couple of stops to rest.) I suppose the difference is simply the difference in heart rate: yesterday’s average was 138 with maximum of 169; today’s average is 125 with a maximum of 137 — below yesterday’s average.

So, in that sense, they were not the same walk; they were the same route. Heraclitus observed that you can’t step into the same river twice; similarly, you can’t take the same walk twice.

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14 April 2022 at 1:36 pm

Making a mechanical whale – Short Version

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Long version also available.

Written by Leisureguy

14 April 2022 at 12:33 pm

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