And Now For Something Completely Different

Hello, hello!  Today, we have a guest blogger (kind of… technically, I wrote it, but I did so from someone else’s point of view at their request).  Normally, I wouldn’t post something so far outside of the realm of writing or crippleness, but it’s for my dad, Gary.  Say hi to Dad!  Anyway, he enlisted me to write a review of the heart monitor and exercise app he recently started using.  So, here are his issues, written out by me.

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Dad and I at a Christmas party a couple of years ago.

The Polar H10 and Polar Beat App

The Polar H10 heart rate monitor paired with the Polar Beat training app is a fabulous combination if you’re a technophile and exercising/training is a major part of your life, but what about everyone else?  What about the people who just want to track their exercise because their doctor said to lose a few pounds and to work some cardio into their schedules?  What about the people who aren’t techno-savvy and just want to jump on the treadmill without having to mess with an app on their phone both before AND after a workout, but still want to track their progress?  Honestly, the Polar H10 and Beat App aren’t designed with everyday people in mind, so if you’re not interested in becoming a hardcore workout enthusiast, save your money.  They aren’t worth the $100.

One of the features of the H10 that Polar touts on its website is the ability to connect to gym equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, etc.) via bluetooth.  As someone who admittedly doesn’t know much about computers and data transfer, I mistakenly believed that this meant the heart monitor and my treadmill would share information in order to provide me with the best exercise summation possible.  Unfortunately, after my first workout, I noticed that the Beat App didn’t track my distance or my pace (both things that my treadmill tracks).  I learned from Polar’s customer service that the H10 doesn’t sync data from the treadmill to the Beat App and the app can’t track distance and pace without the phone’s GPS (which is useless for indoor exercise).  In other words, the H10 gave me the same information my H1 gave me.  It was an extremely disappointing revelation.

At first, I thought maybe I had just pulled my own ideas of what the H10 should do out of thin air.  But then I reviewed Polar’s advertisements for the H10 and Beat App.  While they don’t technically say they can track distance and speed, the advertisements do imply that they can.  On the website, there’s a picture of the open app nestled behind the H10 strap.  The app is set to “running” and the one visible completed exercise routine lists duration and, underneath that, kilometers traveled.  Granted, the completed exercise is “mountain biking,” but a quick glance (which is what ads rely on) implies distance tracking.  Then, there’s the video of the “crossfit” training that gives you a glimpse of the Beat App in action.  There’s a spot for distance on the screen, which I picked up as I watched the video, but the screen disappears before the brain can register that the distance is 0, unless you pause it and really study the screen.  It’s not technically false advertising, but it is highly misleading.

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The picture I mentioned.

Because of the lack of distance and pace information, my daughter (she’s the techno-savvy one in the family) has to manually input my information.  This would be fine, but once she inputs a new training result, she has to delete the entry from the heart monitor so that I don’t have multiple workouts listed and skewing my data.  That means I lose the actual tracking of my heartbeat anyway.  If it were possible to edit/add data to a completed session, it would make life much easier.

Along with all of these issues, there’s also the fact that the connection between the Beat App and the H10 is iffy at best.  I’ve used the strap and app six times now and twice the app informed me that I had no training sessions stored on the monitor after I finished my cardio workout.  The first time, I chalked it up to me making a mistake during the startup, but then it worked fine for a few days before saying that I had no sessions once again.  I know I did everything properly that second time.  Needless to say, I was more than a little peeved that day.

Speaking of the H10’s session storing capabilities, I find it really odd that the strap supposedly holds up to 30 hours of information, but will only store one training session.  I don’t know anyone who trains for 30 hours.  Maybe in future incarnations of the heart monitor Polar could replace some of that useless storage power by figuring out how to transfer data from gym equipment to the Beat App instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who buys something without doing as much research as possible, then complains when things don’t meet my unrealistic expectations.  I tried to find out everything I could about the H10 before I bought it, but there is very little information available.  I’m a larger man, so I didn’t want to buy it only to find out the strap didn’t fit me.  It took me three different Google searches to find something as simple as measurements for the strap.  Finding reliable information about the actual abilities and limitations of the H10 and Beat App was virtually impossible.

Despite the lack of information, I went ahead and purchased the H10 and downloaded the Beat App.  Why?  Because I’ve owned three Polar watches as well as the H1 and have never had issues with the brand in the past.  I trusted that the H10 was an improvement over the H1 and that it would do what the advertisements implied.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t meet my needs or my expectations.

Like I said, if you’re super into working out and you want to keep track of your heartbeat and burned calories (but nothing else), the H10 and Beat App are perfect for you.  If you’re just looking for an easy way to track your exercise while you lose a few pounds, I suggest just sticking with a fitness watch or something like that.

The Year Of Persistence, Revision, And Submissions

Hello, hello!  Welcome to 2018.  I hope everyone has a wonderful year.  May the year be filled with everything you need and something you want!  A few weeks ago, I talked about my goals for the new year (here).  So, I thought I would go ahead and share my January goals this week.  Even though it’s only been two days, I’ve been doing pretty well so far.  Let’s hope the rest of the month is just as productive!

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Definitely not the view here in Texas.

So, here are my January goals in no particular order.

1. Get DS1’s (the current novel attempt’s code name) shitty first draft to at least 60,000 words.  It’s currently 44,000 and I’m aiming for a complete draft of 70-75,000ish words.  For a month, 16,000 words is a pretty reasonable goal.  Hopefully, I’ll get further, but it’s always a good idea to stick with tough but reasonable goals.

2. Submit stuff 10 times (2 every Monday).  This refers only to short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.  Not agent searching.  Last year, I focused primarily on my novel and neglected my other work.  I don’t want to do that this year.  Sure, it means more rejections, but I can’t get any acceptances if I don’t submit, right?  (More positive thinking is also something I’m working on this year.)

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Sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but I’ll try it.

3. Write 1 flash piece OR short story.  I should probably include poems in this, but it’s been so long since I’ve written any poetry that I probably suck at it now.  That’s not negative thinking, it’s just the truth.  I’ll probably set aside some time for writing poetry when I start focusing on my revisions.  For now, I’ll stick with short stories and flash fiction.

4. Read 2 books.  I recently joined GoodReads to try to keep better track of what I’ve read throughout the year.  I’m a slow reader, so my goal is to read 24 books in 2018.  I’m currently halfway through a book I started a week ago, so I guess technically my January goal is only 1.5 books.  Is that cheating?

5. Stop dwelling on rejections and sucking and just do the damn work.  This is where the positive thinking really comes in.  I’ve been down about all the agent rejections I received last year.  After 100 rejections (or just flat out being ignored), it’s hard not to think it’s me and my suckiness.  But!  I just need to suck it up and move on.  I’ve got other projects that might interest people.  It’s time to focus on those!

6. Make time for people.  I always say that I need to talk to more people and I always fail.  But I will keep adding it to my goals until it actually happens!  I used to be so good at keeping in touch with people back when Yahoo chatrooms were a thing.  I don’t know what happened to that me.

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This is not wrong.

7. Turn 32.  Yup, I’m a January baby.  In about 9 days, I’ll be turning 32.  I’m old.  But I’m okay with that.

That’s my plan for January.  What about you?  Do you have any goals for this month?  What about goals for the new year?  Feel free to share them here or on my social media pages!