Saturday, January 9, 2016

The nerdiest thing I could think of to do with my new FitBit

Vanessa gave me a FitBit for Christmas - specifically, the Charge HR.  I've done some nerdy things with it - like figure out how to send more than just phone call notifications to it.  So far I can send text messages, and when activated, sports scores.  Fantastic!

I thought that was the end of my fiddling with it for now; I figured I would probably play with it a little more here and there, but for now, I'd use it as intended.  But then I saw this thread over at Reddit's Loseit community.

Now, I'm not a big Lord of the Rings fan; but I thought that this would be something fun to try and put together using Tasker.  To summarize, the goal is to walk the distance from Hobbiton to Mordor over the course of at least 366 days.  The distance is apparently 1779 miles - I'll have to substantiate this number, but that translates to 2863 kilometres.

Using a spreadsheet to track this is great and all - I've tracked fitness stuff via spreadsheet tons of times.  But I thought I'd go one step further, since part of why I like the Fitbit is that it automates some of the data entry for me (tracking exercise, etc.).  Enter Android, Tasker, IFTTT, and Google Sheets.

It took me a while to get this set up - mainly because I wanted to use the FitBit API to pull the information via Tasker, but I haven't been able to get that going yet - but I have IFTTT sending daily status updates to Google Sheets.  It gives me the date, total steps taken, flights of stairs, elevation (in metres), and the most important piece to all of this, how many kilometres I've walked.

Now, the fun part - pulling the data from Google Sheets.  It's a bit of a pain, but this guide from Peter's Tech Notes was pretty easy to walk through.  So, now in Tasker I've successfully pulled the number of kilometres I've walked from my FitBit data: 6.11 kilometres on Jan 8th (only 2,356.89 km to go to Mordor!).

But I'm not done there.  I still have some more tests to run, because I need to figure out how I want to use this information.  I have several thoughts - the easiest way to go about it would be to create a daily notification at the start of each day telling me how far I've gone, and how far I've left to go.  But that's kind of boring.

I bet there are some complicated ways I could go about incorporating a graphical interface with this.  But that'll come - the first steps will indeed be to set up a daily notification to tell me how far I've walked and how far I have left to go.  I'll start small first - basically, it will tell me the distance between how far I've walked and the total I have left (so this morning I'd see 2356.89 remaining).

The next step would be to break it down further, and show all of the stops in between.  The next step after that would be to try to incorporate some graphical element, if possible.  Or at least something to make it look nicer.

The last step would be figuring out the return journey - I suppose it would just be a matter of reversing everything I did in the first bunch of steps.

This will be a work in progress, and something I'll keep updated here.  I'll share my Tasker profiles as I go, for anyone interested.  Note that for this to work, you'd basically have to substitute all of your own data for the Spreadsheet part, but other than that, it should work as expected.

Here's the test I wrote up - you'll have to download the Snackbar Plugin for it to work, but you could easily just change the last part to one of Tasker's built-in notification options.

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