Samsung Gear Live Pedometer (and bonus: LG G3 Health App)

True, it’s not meant to be just a fitness band, but it contains a pedometer. So it gets tested. As an additional bonus I am also throwing in the LG G3’s “LG Health” app, just because. How I test is described on the Wiki.

Device Steps 1000 Steps 10k Running 10k
Control (mechanical) 1000 10000 10000
Gear Live 890 9228 9890
Gear Live (second) 910 8364 n/a
LG Health 997 9995 9946

20140709_093923Eventually, Google says, there will be a “fitness platform” for all those trackers and other data. Which explains why there’s very little of that available in the app itself right now, just the bare bones. No web interface, no way to control your steps (adjust them, etc.) and no export. With even “our data is not going anywhere and we are not interested in others’ data” blowhards like Basis joining this Fit effort, we’ll hopefully see a much, much, better management interface soon.

For the time being there’s “OK Google, show me my steps” on the Galaxy Gear Live. There’s a “history” card and the actual step card, step milestones (every 100, it seems) are also shown as a card on the watch face.

In my tests the watch performed in the lower middle of the pack, missing as much as 15% of all steps for walking, a little less for running. As I always say, undercounting is better than overcounting, but the watch seems to be set so insensitive to movements that while it never reported false positives while in the train, it also missed me walking fast with my hands in my pockets.

Since this functionality is more or less native I didn’t perform any battery life tests and just presumed it would be on for the day. In this case I was still able to use the watch all day, just as advertised, with around 35% of battery left on “new toy” days with lots of usage.

LG Health

To be honest, I didn’t expect much. The LG Health app is tied to the LG G3 phone’s native launcher and can only be opened using Activity hacks when a third party launcher is used. I am using Activity Launcher, a free app, to remedy that.

Screenshot_2014-07-09-09-38-35 Screenshot_2014-07-09-09-38-09Another moment of honesty: I had completely forgotten I had it. When I started it that evening it looked pretty accurate so I gave it a test the next day. And, as those idiotic SEO optimized click-bait headlines on Facebook always say: “What happened next will surprise you.”

The LG Health App is the second most accurate app I have tested.

It gets beat by Noom, which is a little closer, and does not stand up to Withings and the mechanical pedometer, but it’s pretty damn close and very usable.

Moreover, when enabled (it sucks more battery), LH Health can take a stab at guessing your activity (running, cycling, walking). It did so quite accurately, only misclassifying a short run down a hill as cycling once.

There are negatives. Unlike the watch, Noom, Basis, or FitBit, LG Health won’t likely become a part of Google Fit’s ecosystem, so this data lives in a vacuum right now. Caloric estimates are wildly exaggerated (you can see this above, 274 calories for a leisurely walk day is way too much), and there is no way to correct steps in case of miscounts.

It is, however, out of the box a rather accurate pedometer and one other apps will have to live up to.

Aim For Compersion

This was published on Medium in 2013 where it saw around 50 visits or so. I just re-read it and still think it’s a good piece that, curse of the disconnected poet, didn’t really see that much traffic. So I am republishing it, polished a little bit, for your (likely first) enjoyment.


Psychologists love prodding and probing the concept of happiness. We differentiate ourselves from our medical peers, the psychiatrists, by worrying much less about Dopamine, Endorphins, GABA, and neurotransmitters (though we do and acknowledge their role) and more about happiness as an outward factor, a means to create the same in others. Social psychologists (we come in two forms, the Sociology ones and the Psychology ones) go even further and ask about happiness epidemics, happiness cascades, external detriments and determinants, and — finally — how all this matters to the individual and her ability to feel simply overwhelmingly happy.

I never worked in my field of study. The day I graduated, quite literally, saw me back on the stove that night, much to the chagrin of my family who had hoped that “going to the restaurant” meant I’d buy dinner, not cook it.

Feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, how many different feet you meet? (Dr. Seuss who, himself, was very opposed to polyamory).
Feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, feet, how many different feet you meet? (Dr. Seuss who, himself, was very opposed to polyamory).

That didn’t stop me, however, from spending much time contemplating the concept of happiness and how it translates into hospitality. After all, to quote Tony Bourdain, my job as a professional chef is to “make people happy and, ideally, get them laid.”

Truth be told, that very day, the day I graduated, I needed this. Not the happiness over my achievement and that shiny Ph.D. diploma on my wall, but to feel the happiness of others, to take it in, to see others being happy.

Speak to any decent cook or chef and one of the first mentions goes to happiness and how it, in turn, makes chefs happy to see diners enjoy themselves. This feeling, a feeling of happiness and joy over happiness and joy of others has a name, coined in the mid-80s by a polyamorous commune in San Francisco: Compersion.

Often associated with lovers feeling happiness over their lovers’ happiness with others, the same concept also applies to parents and their children and, yes, chefs and their diners. Like parents we merge pride in a job well done into the mix but, yet, there is something ethereal to just watch or know of someone else enjoying themselves very much. The San Franciscans, though often cited as the inventors of the word, weren’t the first either: Yiddish knows the concept of “Naches”, pleasure derived from one’s children and grandchildren being successful (“naches best translates as ‘descendants’”) and Buddhism refers to mudita, “peer joy” or “sympathetic happiness” in similar circumstances.

Albert Roux, one half of the Roux Brothers and one of the world’s greatest chefs, once told me that “bad chefs count the days they worked, decent chefs count the plates they sold, but great chefs count the smiles they put on faces.”

In my debates with other psychologists I often claim (to some resistance) that, as far as happiness measurements go, compersion is one of the greatest tools we have. Happiness is an inside source, a font, a well coming from within. No external source, from possessions to connections, can replicate this. A new phone, a new lover, or a new dish only go so far in creating an illusion of happiness. “If only I had…” start those demands for happiness that rarely, if ever, lead to it.

Truly loving folk know this: one can not sincerely love and respect a partner unless one surely loves and respects oneself. Polyamorous ones know that, in addition to the above, truly loving more than one person is impossible if the preceding conditions — self love and love for one partner — are not at hand. Compersion, the feeling of taking joy in the joy that others we love share among themselves, especially taking joy in the knowledge that our beloveds are expressing their love for one another, is as demanding on our ability to love ourselves as it is on our ability to love those who love.

A lack of compersion does not denote a lack of self- and second-party love. Its true existence, though, shows that those factors must be present — otherwise compersion simply can not work, can not feed off our inner well of happiness.

Early on in my career, I often wondered why so many cooks and chefs were, like me, polyamorous. Long work hours, a certain hedonism, and an immersion into a culture which values dedication more than possession might all be complicit in it, but more than anything else, I believe it to be compersion, the fact that we’re really happy only if you are happy.

Compersion is what makes us cook Michelin-starred meals, work long hours, weekends, holidays, birthdays, and come back every day for it. Compersion is what elevates, exacerbates, and potentiates our happiness — an invaluable tool available to anyone who is ready and willing to find happiness in themselves and strive for dedication, not possession. Try compersion, you might really, really like it.

New Lightroom Preset: Chrome:Proposal


Proposal isn’t about that heart-pounding, hopefully once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s also not about the indecent version. It’s about a proposition for less faux hipsterism and less faux HDR and more people centered summer feels. It’s time for the beach, time for the lake, time to hop on inner tubes and small bonfires in the evening while Willy plays his guitar, badly, and Ana tries to sing. It’s about freedom and about forgetting the burdens of the workday, about sand in your shoes and the smell of grilled goods on your clothes.

It’s about the colors we call summer.

It can be downloaded from GitHub (or you could check out the full repository or download it as a zip). It is, as always licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA-4.0 license, which means you are free to do with it as you will as long as you link back to the original repo, you don’t sell the filters (non-commercial), and you share alike.


Standing Desk, Day One

Makeshift Standing Desk
Makeshift Standing Desk

Typing this isn’t as easy as it should be. I am standing, a wobbly keyboard on a stack of books, my monitor propped on top of Modernist Cuisine, the $800 culinary tome by patent troll and all around not good guy Nathan Myhrvold.

This is day one of my standing desk experiment, a month standing instead of sitting. My ass has become wider than I am accustomed to and I am seeing first signs of what could become varicose veins, which is exacerbated by standing and walking but can be triggered by constricting blood flow when sitting. In either case, a month doesn’t hurt either way and standing might be assisting in other areas, too, such as playing too many games and not writing enough.

Much has been written about the harms of sitting for prolonged periods, so I am not repeating those. Who cares anyways? But since this is my blog I’ll be keeping tabs on how it works out for me, especially the question of competitive gaming, writing long chapters at night, and at what point my flat feet will tell me to sit the eff back down and take the three year lifespan reduction.

I’ll need one of those standing mats, that one’s for sure.