Author Archives: James

How to scrobble to Last.fm with Spotify Connect

It’s pretty much impossible to scrobble songs you listen to via Spotify Connect via the standard spotify apps. However, recently Spotify released an updated API that allows the retrieval of the currently playing track. Some kind soul has therefore made the ‘Spotify Scrobbler

Spotify Scrobbler - Scrobbling for Spotify Connect

This means you can now track your plays from the PS4, and other devices that utilise Spotify Connect such as the Bose Soundtouch speaker range. Fantastic! It also means you can disable the unreliable scrobbling from each Spotify app you use as they break at least once a week for seemingly no reason. Super fantastic.

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Removing Duplicate Scrobbles on Last.fm

So, my last.fm account/spotify went mental last week and logged a single song 1000 times in a row. Since Last.fm is currently in the throes of dying and removing every last useful feature from their site, I was wondering how I could fix this.

Well, sk22 on Github has provided a handy piece of javascript that works perfectly. Simply navigate to the page and enter the script into your address bar (or add it to a bookmark on the bookmark bar) and enjoy your duplicate free library!

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Add to your bookmark bar for easy one click reduplication!


Life Tracking with Exist

I’ve built up quite a collection of health and fitness apps over the last few years. MyFitnessPal (MFP) tracks my eating habits, Withings tracks my weight, my Apple Watch monitors my heart rate & my activities.

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Life Tracking App/Hardware/Services Flow Diagram

All that data! So many apps to view it all. Well, not really. Thanks to Apple Health and everything starting to talk to each other, all these disparate services can share their wealth of data with each other.

In summary, the heart of my system is Apple Health. I am sure if you are an Android user, then Google Health will probably do exactly the same job.

From there, MyFitnessPal logs my calorific intake and updates Apple Health every time I log anything. MyFitnessPal also updates my weight from Apple Health so it knows how far I am away from my goals, and can update my calorie predictions based on my actual weight.

Next up is the Apple Watch. I use this for Sleep Tracking (with the Pillow app), Activity Tracking (both via passive tracking aka the apple watch rings, and via the included Workouts app). The activity rings play a surprisingly massive role in my health and fitness.

They encourage you to do that little bit more, stand up that little bit longer, and take those extra few steps. You even get badges for completing streaks of days, weeks, and months, and it alerts all your friends with an Apple Watch every time you complete a ring! Everyone loves trophies, achievements and letting people know you are exercising, right?  😉

The Apple Watch also passively monitors your heart rate all the time you are wearing it.  All these data points feed directly into the Apple Health app without any intervention, making it super easy to track just how much or little you do in a day.

Apple Watch Activity Tracking Overview

The final piece of hardware I have is an old set of Withings wifi scales. (Withings was bought by Nokia, so these are now branded as Nokia…)

Jump on these in the morning (… after your morning ablutions..) and your weight will be updated in Apple Health. It will also be available to apps you’ve allowed to read this data like MyFitnessPal, and others.  MFP will update its calorie predictions, as does the Activity tracking on the Apple Watch. If you stay standing on it long enough it will also do a heart rate reading and tell you the weather for the coming day.

 

 

The thing that really ties together all my data is a dashboard called Exist. It connects to pretty much everything I care about… (Withings, RescueTime, DarkSky, Last.Fm, Google Calendar, Apple Health) and displays my data with averages, trends, and predictions.

If you sign up for a trial of Exist with my link, you get an extra month for free (two months total!) so its worth checking out if you are at all interested in the data you generate every single day.

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Exist Daily Averages Dash board

I can see at a glance I walk about less on Saturdays, but I complete more workouts on Friday & Saturday. Basically, I sit at home most Saturdays, but I go to the gym more often then too. I can see via RescueTime I am more productive on Wednesdays and that Tuesdays are a shocker for me.

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Exist Sleep Widget

The sleep tracking I do my via Apple Watch feeds in, and shows me last night I slept for the longest I have in a month. I was obviously feeling lazy this morning! I can see my average bedtime of 11.25pm is 21 minutes earlier than normal and I’ve been waking up later. Maybe I could get up sooner and go to the damn gym instead?

It will even work out ways to optimise for more steps, or active minutes etc. For example, when it doesn’t ‘rain or snow’ my average steps go up by 19% or when my average heart rate is above 85bpm it goes up 54% (because I logged a workout!)

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Optimising for more Steps!

Some correlations are less useful… apparently I weigh less on days when its windier…? after I get fewer likes on Instagram…? Yup, the trick to weight loss is obvious now… post junk on Instagram on windy days! The longer Exist collects data, the more useful it gets. I really like seeing the randomness of things I do mapped out on a graph, suddenly everything isn’t so random.

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Who knew I ate more on a Tuesday?

Overall, Exist is working really well for me. The cost is basically 2 pints a month (US$6/month) but I am getting so much use out of my health data being visualised in such a decent way its been totally worth it for me.

It’s helped me focus, and keeps me logging into MyFitnessPal every day. It focuses me on going for a walk, or just getting out of the house for a bit. All of these contribute more and more to my weight loss goals and just make me feel a happier person!

I hope this massive essay was helpful to anyone looking at how to get the most out of their health & fitness data. I’d love to hear any comments on how other people manage this sort of stuff, so do please comment if you read this!

Week 2

We were on holiday for the ‘actual’ week #2, and spent most of the week sat in the sun drinking all inclusive cocktails & eating pizza around the clock. I didn’t have many goals for week 2, so we are going to skip it.

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Now, for the POST TRUTH week #2…

  1. Walk at least last weeks average steps per day, 8660.
  2. Go the gym 3 times
  3. Smash the rings on my Apple Watch
  4. Eat healthily, drink less! (Should be easy after last week!)
  5. Lose most of my holiday weight… 😲
  6. Finish a book I’ve already started reading
  7. Get to the credits in any game I haven’t completed before.

The trend this week is getting back into the swing of being healthy & overall self improvement. After all my second half mudder isn’t very far away…… 🤔

Week 1 – Recap

Activity June 19th-25th

My weekly activity started strong. I managed my active calorie ring every single day (time to up my target!), smashing it on the Monday + 32 minutes of ‘exercise’ & 14 hours standing.

Err, it all went downhill from there… I feel like I should at the very least be completing my Active Calories AND my Stand Goal.

I don’t really feel like I achieve the ring goals this week.

week 1 goals

Moving on to number 2… Well, I did not complete any workouts. And I feel bad. Hopefully this motivates me more next time! I think I will shorten the workouts to at least get them logged.

#3… I started using RescueTime in conjuction with Exist.io which is a dashboard of ‘everything’:… Apple Health, Last.FM, the weather, productive time (more on this shortly), MyFitnessPal, and so many more. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re into stats/data and want to see correlations from your own life.

It seems I am a lazy bum on the weekends, so I think I will go for a walk later….!

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My Exist.io averages dashboard

Exist.io gets its productivity data from a service called ‘RescueTime‘. This runs on my work computer only and basically tracks if what I am currently doing is productive or distracting. For the first few days, I was obsessing over the reports but now I am happy to just let it run and look every couple of days.

For the first full week, I wanted to hit 4 hours of ‘productive’ time a day. I logged 25h27m on RescueTime in total this week. 18h14m ‘very productive’, 2h17m ‘productive’, with less than 2.5 hours of distracting time. I spent 4 days in the office, so it seems  I smashed my 4 hour a day a goal! Result!

#4… I have a draft in Onenote waiting to be finalised! Spoiler, I played iOS games this week! Normal backlog service will resume soonish.

#5… We went through some more stuff, but it’s getting harder now. Sentimental value is kicking in! Perhaps better storage solutions are the key to happiness in this regard.

#6… See number 4…

What I’ve Been Playing – Level 0

Breath of the Wild

I haven’t really gotten into anything much recently. Instead, I tried to play everything at the same time, and got bored of it all before too long.

I started Breath of the Wild, accidentally wiped my save file, started again then didn’t really go back to it. I played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for about 20 hours in the two weeks after it came out, then haven’t been back to it at all. Also on Switch I bought World of Goo, I am Setsuna, Disgaea 5, Minecraft and never really got into any of them. Whoops. Just need Stardew Valley so I can buy that too, then not play it.

On PS4 I got back into Formula 1 2016 picking up my save from last September on the super easy mode, because driving F1 cars is hard. I am currently enjoying thoroughly beating everyone even though they basically all forgot how to drive.

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F1 2016 on PS4

I also started Dragon Quest Heroes. Are you seeing a trend yet? I like starting games, I like quitting them even more! I’ll probably go back to Dragon Quest Heroes next month, or maybe next year. Long winded story games are basically my nemesis.

I even started Omega Ruby again, with the hilarious plan of completing a Living Pokedex. It didn’t happen when I was at uni with 30 hours a week spare, and I really doubt I will ever complete a living Pokedex now, or any time in the future.

Going forward I am going to try and play a ‘few’ games a week, and blogg about them regularly. Maybe this will make me get through my backlog in a reasonable fashion. Maybe I could even set a target of beating 30 games before the end of 2018? We’ll see.

This guy is basically a hero. I do wonder if he has a job or a wife, though. Over 5 hours a day just playing games!

gxvg87e

OP WILL DELIVER!!!

Games I played a bit of recently:

  • Breath of the Wild
  • Dragon Quest Heroes
  • Zelda Picross
  • Magical Starsign
  • Monster Hunter 4
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby

Games I plan on completing soon:

Week 1

Things I am going to do this week, apparently by writing them down publicly I might stand more of a chance of doing these.productivity-1995786_1920.jpg

  • Complete Apple Watch Activity Rings 7/7 Days
  • 3x45minute workouts on Apple Health
  • Reach 4 hours of ‘Very Productive’ each day M-F on RescueTime
  • Blog about what games I’ve been playing (and not playing)
  • Throw out more shit I don’t need from my tiny flat
  • Focus on 2-3 games, not 12 different games.
    • Formula 1 2016 (PS4)
    • Magical Starsign on (DS)
    • Zelda Picross (3DS, I might even finish it this week!!)

Nintendo Switch Activity Log

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have an Activity Log built into it like those found on the 3DS or the Wii U. However, if you download the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app which is available for Android and iOS then you will be able to get a list of what games you’ve been playing.

It’s a shame there isn’t just a normal activity log… but this will have to do…

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Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App on iOS

The app is designed for parents to be able to limit their children’s playtime but you can disable all of that and just use it for the Activity Log goodness.

On thing to note, you will need the Parental Control PIN occasionally… changing Wifi settings, to log into social accounts for sharing and stuff like that. The PIN is emailed to you and you can find it in the app, so you shouldn’t lose it!

Update (Tues 7th March)

On your profile (click your icon in the top left corner of the home screen) you can see how long you’ve played a game for (for up to 100 hours..)

See this tweet….

Fire Emblem & Pokemon Snap

What does Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright & Pokémon Snap have in common? I completed them both last week!

fates-birthright

Two more games off the backlog! The girlfriend and I played Pokemon Snap to the credits in one sitting, and I completed FE Fates Birthright on super easy n00b mode.

Whatever… I am not ashamed, I was totally just playing for the story! Plus, I don’t have time for long-ass RPGs any more. So, having a way to breeze through the story was nice. Maybe one day I’ll go back and play Conquest & Revelations. Probably not though… A snippet of my RPG backlog includes highlights such as Dragon Quest 7, several Final Fantasy Tactics games, several Disgaea games, Skyrim, Morrowind, Witcher 3… you get the idea….

I enjoyed playing Fates on super-scrub mode, but I won’t be going back any time soon.

Pokemon Snap title screen

Pokémon Snap was an awesome game. I genuinely don’t know why we didn’t play it sooner. We got to the credits in about 4 hours and caught about 95% of the Pokémon in the game. Thoughts include: ‘WHY HASN’T NINTENDO MADE POKEMON SNAP 2!!!!!!’, and ‘FUCK YOU OAK! THAT PHOTO WAS AMAZING’. Great game!

I also discovered that two players can use different controllers but still control player 1 on the WiiU Virtual Console. This meant the gf could have the gamepad and I had a pro controller, and we didn’t need to keep passing the controller. Something small, but pretty neat.

Executive Order: Ban the Beer – First Month Goals Update

Over a month has passed since my last post, and in that time I have been (slowly) working towards those goals I mentioned.

I didn’t go to the gym that much, but I have been doing exercises at home (and on the road) with the help of my girlfriend who does 30-60 minutes a day in our flat. I even have resistance bands, and a roller!

I have almost completely stopped drinking beer. In fact, I lost 8lbs which I am absolutely attributing to the lack of hoppy-malty goodness. I don’t really even miss it that much… Which I thought I would! I have only had a single pint in three weeks.

I managed to log successfully for about a 14 day streak in MyfitnessPal before I went off that wagon. Anyway, onto the stats!

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This is super motivational, and should help me continue onwards and upwards!

This month I am going to the gym more often – at least twice a week when I am at home! Continue not drinking any/much at all beer. Continue with my Huel breakfast shakes (2 scoops, 300 calories), maybe extend these to lunchtimes* with a bit more trial and error, and keep eating healthy meals for dinner.

You can make basically an infinite amount of omelette variations… Spinach, tuna, chicken, ham, turkey, broccoli, asparagus.. The list is basically endless 🙂 Omelette’s are awesome.

See you again for ‘update 2’ in March!

*I tried this last week and failed absolutely miserably. I just couldn’t deal with no having solid food for lunch. Maybe I should try again and take some healthy snacks into the office with me. Hmm!