I’m a bona fide nerd. I even have the credentials to prove it: a first edition Netware CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) certificate and a Windows NT MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certificate. In case you don’t know, this means I am not only a Nerd, but am truly an Old Blood Geek. The further proof of this the fact that the MCSE acronym no longer means what it should mean and did mean when I got it, it means Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. They’ve stolen the engineer-ship from all of you whippersnappers!
But I digress, I didn’t come here today to boast of my legendary techie credentials, I came here to talk about electronic gadgets and bicycles. In my home office, I have drawers and boxes full of the flotsam of 35 years in the computer business. Items which once cost more than a brand new car are stuffed in with cables belonging to long discarded devices whose original purpose I can’t even remember. I’m comforted by the fact that even my wife knows this evidence of a hoarding instinct on my part will never be lost, and my collection will be a treasure trove for some future Anthropologist of Gizmos.
I digress … again.
Mixed in with all those electronic artifacts are a number of electric bike gizmos I’ve acquired over the years, used for a while, and then placed in my impromptu museum: there are several speedometers of both the wired and wireless variety; there is the totally righteous Signal Pod I wrote about in 2012, a bike turn signal/hazard light which encourages you to play Sixties hot rod music as you cruise; there is also a Garmin eTrex Legend, my first (and only) exclusively GPS device.
And, of course, there are the cell phones. I’ve got flip phones and classic Nokia phones. I still have the ancient Droid phone I used to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Google Maps has an army of Thrall Maidens they have captured and forced to give you your biking Directions (Ha! Worked right back on topic, didn’t I?)
These days, the only real electronic gizmo I have with me when I ride is my Android smartphone. Google Maps has greatly improved since the days of the Slave Princesses (the Google Gal is much more businesslike). And there are a number of apps which substitute for a speedometer and fitness tracker.
I’ve been a fan of LG phones for several years. My current device is an LG G6. I have the LG Health app running on it which records a variety of information.
Setting up the LG Health app is pretty simple. You just enter the app, put some information in your profile and check the circle which says “Record exercise type.” The app does a pretty good job of figuring out whether you’re walking, climbing stairs, cycling and so forth. I get exhausted just looking at the data sometimes (“I WALKED six miles at work today?!? No wonder I fell asleep watching the game and spilled my beer all over the La-Z-Boy!”).
There’s another feature which allows you to start recording your cycling run in a stopwatch sort of mode. Among other things, it will track the duration of your ride, the calories expended, the equivalency of the ride in steps, the distance, your average speed and the pace in minutes per mile. No doubt this is a good training tool if you’re into competitive cycling.
If you really are competitive, you can sync LG Health up to the Web and compare your exercise results with a selected group of friends. You can also sync it with something called the LG Health Service. I guess this would be a good way to tell if you’re over exercising and are going to croak.
Samsung has a similar app called Samsung Health. It records basically the same information as the LG and gives you the same opportunity to brag to your friends or be embarrassed about your woeful physical conditioning.
An additional, really trick feature is the ability, through the camera lens, to record your heartbeat and stress level. Maybe, if you hook it up to WebMD, and could get it to take your blood pressure, you could skip those regular doctor’s visits!
I know the Apple iPhone has a health app, too, but my only iPhone is a little old iPhone 5 and I haven’t had a lot of luck using the health app. Apparently, you download another app, like a cycling app, and the Apple program uses the information from that program as a data source. It collects all the information about walking and exercising from other apps and puts it altogether into a sort of fitness compendium.
My son has the top shelf iPhone X, and he doesn’t use the Apple app when he’s cycling. He used to have a Samsung, and says he wishes Samsung Health would be ported over to the iPhone. He uses a program called Strava, which is one of the better known fitness apps.
Strava requires you create an account and give them all kinds of personal data. As I mentioned previously, I’m a genuine geek, which means I’m very paranoid about spreading my personal information all over the Internet. Therefore, I don’t know too much about Strava.
The last thing I want to do is make a personal plea to everyone out there: if you use your phone as a bike accessory, please just put it out of sight and don’t look at it while you’re riding. You don’t want your last words to be “Hey! Look! I just hit 28 miles per hour as I’m crossing in front of that Mack truc…”
BluesCat is a senior citizen still living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. He is not a health nut, but he likes walnuts.