Daily Archives: Thursday, 3rd January 2013

Withings Wifi Body Scale

Having started to log my activity automatically with the Fitbit Zip, which as you’ll notice from the daily[1] step count figures, is still working nicely, I began to consider the possibility of going for some automagic weight recording too.

Now there is a Fitbit scale on the market, but having read a lot of reviews, there seemed to be a general tendency towards there being more issues with that than there were with the rival device made by Withings. Add to that the detail that the Withings scale comes with stick on feet that allow it to be used on carpet as well as the hard surface the Fitbit scale demands, and I began to think about it a bit more. Then I found out that it’s a simple matter to get the Withings service to talk to other things, including my Fitbit account, and I began to think a bit harder.

The only thing that held me up was the price – RRP is £120, and even Amazon were mildly expensive. But as it happened, while I was away, I spotted it in one of their Boxing Day Bargain thingies, and was able to get one for £75, which is still quite a lot for a scale, but…

Anyway, it was delivered to work yesterday, and I set it up as soon as I got it home. Setting up involves connecting it to a computer with the supplied USB cable, then downloading a setup wizard from the Withings website. This allows you to set it up to connect to your wireless network. I’ve seen some reports of people having trouble getting this to play nicely, but it worked immediately on my kit.

I then set up some details on the website – my height, age, and so on. Then it was time to try the scale. The first measurement didn’t seem to get through, but after the second it started to recognise me, and happily uploaded the data. It records weight, calculates BMI[2] and by means of a small electrical current[3], makes an estimate of body fat levels. All this is uploaded to your personal dashboard on the Withings website, where you can see graphs of your progress (or lack of progress), and if you choose to, share the data with assorted social networks.

In a brave move, I’ve added the widget to the footer of the site – this will always display the most recent measurement, and lets you scroll back to see earlier ones, which I’m sure will give you hours of entertainment.

There’s also a graph thingy you can look at, which won’t be very interesting until there’s a lot more data, but here it is anyway:

I’ll probably add this to a static page to make it easier to refer to, should you be odd enough to want to do that.

The scale runs on four AAA size batteries, which it’s claimed with run for months. And it can record measurements for multiple users, so long as everyone has their own Withings page.

So far it seems like a nice bit of kit – the display is bright and clear, and it does its measuring and calculating in just a few seconds, after which it turns the display off so you know it’s finished.

[1] Except when I forget to clip it on to my belt
[2] Body Mass Index, a slightly spurious measurement, but it does give a good idea, so long as you’re not too tall or too muscular or too fit. Which I’m not.
[3] This is not safe for anyone with a pacemaker, by the way.

Weight and Stuff Report – 3 January 2013

Weight: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds, 99.8 kg)
Steps taken: 7,708
Exercise: Walked to work, lunchtime walk

Up a bit today, but still slightly below the dreaded 100kg mark, so it’s not too bad.

I persuaded myself to walk to work today, as it was a lot drier than yesterday. Still dull and grey, but not too cold, which wasn’t so bad. And it seems the Garmin app has got over the sulk it was having  on New Year’s Day, and managed to record and synchronise the details:

Walked to work

Walked to work

Not only that, but I took another longish walk at lunchtime, taking a vaguely circular route around the city centre. In a shocking development, the Garmin app managed to not lose that either:

Lunchtime Walk

Lunchtime Walk

But I decided not to push it and got the bus home.

Merlin – the end

I don’t seem to have mentioned Merlin very much since the first episode, but as it’s now come to an end after five seasons, it’s probably as good a time as any to get back to the subject.

It was good to see a series come to a planned end, rather than either carrying on long past its welcome had worn out, or suffering the miserable fate of being cancelled leaving questions unanswered.

Merlin was an odd thing, really. There were loads of bits of the Arthurian legends most of us know, or at least think we know, mixed with gleefully anachronistic[1] language and attitudes. But at the heart of it was the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Though the main question about that is much the same as the one that was asked in Lois and Clark[2], where eventually a time-travelling guest villain did ask how stupid Lois Lane was to not notice the remarkable similarity between Superman and Clark Kent. The question here was how stupid was Arthur not to notice Merlin repeatedly saving his life, the kingdom and much else by means of magic. But as that was part of the essential charm of the show, I suppose it falls under the general “suspension of disbelief” heading, so I’ll let it pass.

Anyway, many stories were told, much was done, and a general good time was had by all. But in the end, the force of Story had to come through, with the final battle between Morgana, aided by the all grown up version of Mordred[3] and Camelot. And as Story demands, Arthur, thanks to Merlin’s power, was victorious, but received a fatal injury in the process. It was surprising to see Morgana being killed by Merlin, using Arthur’s sword rather than direct magic, but never mind.

And then came the long, slow end. Merlin’s desperate quest to save Arthur, during which he finally admitted his power, and the weakened and dying Arthur finally realised what he’d been missing all this time, was either a bit rushed or a bit drawn out – I’m really not sure which. I’d been expecting the Big Reveal to take place part way through the final season, giving Arthur time to accept Merlin as something more than a servant, but the way it was done still worked well enough for me not to feel I’d been cheated of a proper conclusion.

And as Story demanded, Merlin couldn’t save Arthur, who as prophesied, had to die. The only real variation from more usual Arthurian stories was Arthur’s remarkably sensible decision to leave Guinevere in charge. We’ll never know how that works out, but she’d probably do quite well. She was certainly the brains of the outfit…

Overall, it remained Good Stuff up to the end. Nicely done. And the dragon was lovely.

[1] Well, since the Arthurian stories don’t have a “real” point in history, I suppose you can get away with that…
[2] For those who don’t remember, this was an ever so slightly silly TV take on Superman, which ran under the title The New Adventures of Superman in the UK, presumably because they thought we wouldn’t get the cultural reference in the original title. Which was probably about right, come to think of it
[3] He seemed such a nice lad when he was younger. Apart from the scary eyes, that is.