Fitness and Activity Trackers

Along with the Fitbit Zip ($59.95), among the company’s other offerings are the Fitbit One ($99.95), Flex ($99.95), Charge ($129.95), Charge HR ($149.95), and the Surge (a $249.95 smartwatch). As you can see from the company’s website, the Zip and One are small, clip-on trackers, whereas the Flex, Charge, Charge HR, and top-of-the-line Surge are bracelets.

You can find Fitbit products at consumer electronics stores such as Best Buy, as well as mass-market retailers, including Target and Walmart.

All of these Fitbit devices track steps, calories burned, and distance throughout the wearer’s day (including when they’re involved in workouts or fitness-oriented activities). These devices can monitor “active minutes” versus time when the wearer is stationary.

Depending on the Fitbit model, some also display a clock, handle sleep tracking, track the number of floors climbed, and allow the user to set various types of alarms.

The Charge HD and Surge also include some of the broader functionality of a full-featured smartwatch. For example, the Surge offers GPS tracking, the ability to remotely control the iPhone’s Music app, the ability to display incoming text messages and Caller ID information from the iPhone, and it has a built-in heart rate monitor.

After purchasing one of the Fitbit tracker devices and/or the Aria scale, you need to download and install the free Fitbit app, which is available from the App Store. This proprietary app can handle a variety of tasks, including:

  • Tracking activity throughout the day—Depending on which Fitbit tracker the app is wirelessly linked with, the app tracks and maintains details about steps taken, floors climbed, active minutes, and calories burned. In addition to displaying data from a single day, the app makes it easy to view progress over time by enabling you to look at and compare data from the past.
  • Logging meals and caloric intake—Via a variety of food logging tools, the app makes it easy to track the foods you eat and what you drink, calculate your caloric intake, and determine other nutrition-related information with minimal manual data entry. For example, you can use the camera built in to your iPhone to scan a food or drink product’s barcode (shown in Figure 3.19).
  • Set and monitor personalized goals—The app allows you to set and work toward step, weight, and activity-related goals. Based on data collected, the app suggests ways to improve the results you’re achieving while working toward each goal.
  • Interact with friends to share achievements—Using communication tools built in to your iPhone, including email and Facebook connectivity, you can easily share your fitness-related achievements with your online friends, as well as the Fitbit online community (if you choose to).
  • Track a runner’s progress via the MobileRun feature—Instead of using a stand-alone app for runners, the Fitbit app has specific tools available for runners that allow you to track your pace, time, and distance, and differentiate between runs, walks, and hikes. The app can also utilize GPS data either from the iPhone or one of the higher-end Fitbit trackers to map routes.

Club App on iPhone or Apple Watch

The Nike+ Running app for the iPhone and Apple Watch has been a pioneer when it comes to using mobile technology as a fitness tool. If your fitness activities extend beyond running and are more exercise or workout oriented, the Nike+ Training Club app will probably be better suited to your needs. This free app offers a guided collection of exercises and workout routines that display on your iPhone in live-action video (see Figure 12.9).

Many of the more than 100 video-based workout routines available via this app are hosted by celebrity athletes and Nike Master Trainers. Beyond just providing workout videos to watch and follow along with, the app focuses on motivating you and serving as a virtual fitness coach that’s available to you whenever and wherever you can work out.

Whether you’re looking to tone up, lose weight, or enhance your strength, for example, the individual workouts offered by Nike+ Training Club can help you achieve specific goals. However, by grouping these workouts together into organized four-week programs, this single app can help you more systematically achieve your goals.

Nike+ Training Club is for people at all fitness levels, enabling users to design a fitness and workout routine that fits into their schedule and that’s for the home, outside, or at a gym. The app includes tools for gathering, tracking, and analyzing activity data, and for sharing the workout experience with others.

After you create a free online-based account, the Nike+ Training Club encourages you to select an initial workout based on a goal. Goal options include Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, or Get Focused. Next, select an Experience Level.

Know more App on the Apple Watch

It’s time to exercise, and the Apple Watch can help you track your workout sessions. In this excerpt from Apple Watch and iPhone Fitness Tips and Tricks, Jason Rich shows you how you can set a Caloric, Distance, or Time goal, and then have the watch display real-time data it collects as you pursue that goal during your workout.

The Workout app is somewhat similar to the Activity app, but instead of being designed for use at all times while you’re wearing the watch, this app allows you to collect and analyze data related to actual workouts.

To use this app, launch it from the Home screen of the Apple Watch (see Figure 5.23), and from the main menu, select the fitness-related activity you’re about to participate it. Options include Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Run, Indoor Walk, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, or Other.

When you’re ready to begin a workout, follow these steps to activate the Workout app on your watch:

  1. From any watch face you’ve selected to be displayed on the watch’s screen, press the Digital Crown to access the watch’s Home screen.
  2. Tap on the Workout app icon to launch the Workout app.
  3. When the main menu appears, tap on the type of workout you plan to engage in.
  4. Depending on the activity you select, a submenu screen enables you to Set Calories, Set Time, or Set Miles, or select Open (if you have no goal in mind, but simply want to track your workout-related data). If you select the Set Time screen, a timer appears, showing 0:00, with a negative sign (–) icon on the left and a plus sign (+) icon on the right. Tap the + icon to set the desired duration for your workout. Press the Start button, shown in Figure 5.24, to begin your workout.

Notebooks on Working

In this chapter, you discover how notebooks work in OneNote, including how to start new notebooks as well as remove old notebooks you no longer use. Topics include

  • Learning how notebooks are structured
  • Creating new notebooks
  • Opening and closing existing notebooks
  • Removing old notebooks

Notebooks are the holders of all your note-taking efforts in Microsoft OneNote. Much like a folder holds files or a document holds text, a notebook holds all the items you deem worthy as notes. In fact, you can think of a notebook as a specialized folder of sorts, but with its own interface and unique tools. A notebook automatically expands and saves all the content you place into it, without any effort on your part. All you have to do is decide how you want to organize your notes and where to place them on a page. You can create as many notebooks as you want, and you never have to worry about running out of paper. It’s so easy, you might find yourself keeping notebooks for all kinds of projects you hadn’t previously thought about. Because you can quickly sync them across devices, your notebooks can always go where you go. You can print them out, email them, or share them with others; there’s really no end to their usage, whether for home, work, or school.


Exploring Notebooks

Items you collect and store digitally with OneNote are placed into notebooks. Much like a regular spiral paper notebook, your digital notebooks are built page by page, and you can organize pages into sections. When you create a notebook, OneNote starts you out with a single, blank page. You can start adding notes anywhere on the page and add as many sections and pages as you want.

Take a look at the notebook structure as it appears onscreen:

Here’s a rundown of the notebook elements:

  • Notebooks list The current notebook name appears here, and you can quickly switch between other open notebooks using the drop-down menu.
  • Sections Across the top of the notebook are tabs for each section you add. To jump to a section, just click or tap the section tab. You can give the tabs unique names, too, so you can easily figure out what each contains.
  • Navigation or Pages pane On the right side of the program window is a pane listing pages you add, along with a command for adding new pages. You can use this pane to navigate between pages in a notebook.
  • Scrollbars The more content you add to a page, the longer or wider the page becomes. You can use the scrollbars to move up and down or left and right.

The behind-the-scenes action for working with notebooks happens when you click or tap the File tab on the Ribbon. A whole screen of notebook information opens, along with commands for printing, sharing, exporting, and emailing notebooks. You can use this screen, also called Backstage View, to view your notebooks, sync them to your cloud storage, view file properties, and close any open notebooks you’re finished using. The Info tab appears by default and displays Notebook Information. Click or tap the other tabs to view their contents.

The Macro Recorder in VBA Programming

The macro recorder is a good introduction into the world of VBA programming, but it’s not meant to be your only teacher. It provides a simplistic approach to coding with Excel’s object model, but is by far not a teacher of advanced or efficient programming methods. You can even pick up some bad habits if you rely on it as your only means of learning VBA. Like many other programmers, I did start off with the recorder but eventually moved to the next level.

Here are 10 things I had to learn to take my programming skill up a notch.


1. The Macro Recorder Is a Terrible Teacher, But You Can Learn from It.

I’m not saying to throw out the recorder and never use it again. In truth, most of the time I find it more useful then Microsoft’s help files when I need to look up an object or its properties and methods. Need the code for creating a pivot table? Then go ahead and record it so you can see the objects and steps involved. But then improve the code by using the advice below.


2. Declare Your Variables!

In the early days when RAM was so expensive, every byte counted. That was a major argument for declaring variables: Undeclared variables are of type variant, with a minimum size of 16 bytes, whereas if you declare a variable as type integer, you use only 2 bytes.

Now that high RAM is so common, some have thrown out the argument and don’t bother declaring variables. But then, they’ve forgotten the other reason for variable declaration, one which has saved me a lot of frustration: When you require variable declaration, Excel will point out unknown variables during compilation. And if you mix upper-and lowercase in your variable naming, you can spot mistakes right away, because Excel will keep the case the same for you as you are typing your code.

You have to manually turn on the variable declaration requirement: In the VBE, go to Tools, Options and check the box for Require Variable Declaration. Once that’s done, any new workbooks will have Option Explicit at the top of every module. For your older workbooks, you can type in Option Explicit at the top of a module, forcing variable declaration.


3. There’s No Need to Use Select or Activate.

Probably one of the worst actions the recorder teaches is that objects must be selected before they can be manipulated. If you provide Excel with the specific object you want to manipulate, such as a sheet name or cell address, then you don’t need to activate the sheet or select the cell. So, while the macro recorder provides this:

ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "5"
ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "6"
ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "=SUM(R[-2]C:R[-1]C)"

All that’s really needed is this:

Sheets("Sheet1").Range(“A1”).Value = 5
Sheets("Sheet1").Range(“A2”).Value = 6
Sheets("Sheet1").Range("A3").Formula = "=SUM(A1:A2)"

Not only does this shorten the number of lines, but it also makes it easier to read the code because right away you know what object (Sheet1, cell A1) is being modified. Changing FormulaR1C1 to Value is mainly a style preference; I prefer to use FormulaR1C1 when actually entering an R1C1-style formula. The change to Formula in the last line is also personal; I’m an A1-style gal, most of the time. By including the sheet object (Sheets("Sheet1")) each time, it doesn’t matter what sheet is actually the active sheet. Excel will always update Sheet1. This is a great way to hide data you’re entering from users.


4. Indent Your Code to Improve Readability.

It seems to be such a small matter, but indention of loops goes a long way in making code easier to read. Whenever someone posts unindented code at a forum, the first thing I do is indent it