iPod Nano and Nike+

I bewildered my family this holiday season. Not only did I actually go to brick and mortar stores to do my shopping (and even got stuff not on their lists!) but my own wish list this year included exercise gadgets. Two gadgets in particular I had my first chance to use today. The first is a heart rate monitor from Polar. It uses a chest sensor to detect my heart rate and relay it to a watch. That way I can track my heart rate during my run. I've been told that the best way to train is actually not to kill yourself. Go figure. Anyway, according to the documentation my target maximum heart rate (considering my age) should be somewhere around 195 bpm. Today during my run I was constantly over that mark. I was regularly hovering around 205, and on my last 400 meters stretched up into the 215 realm. It was neat to see how my body was adapting.

The second item was a new doodad for my iPod. Nike and Apple got together and created a special line of shoes as well as a pedometer and adapter for the iPod Nano. The shoes are made so that the pedometer can be slipped under the sole of the shoe. The attachment to the iPod picks up the signal from the pedometer and tracks my workout. In addition, as I was running a voice would come in over my music and let me know how I was progressing on my run. For my first run, I set a goal of going two miles. I've always assumed that the loop around our park is 5/8ths (0.625) miles, as that is what the parks office told me when I asked. So I typically run three laps and call it close enough. Turns out, I needed to go a bit farther to get my two miles in, according to the pedometer. The gadget worked, though. As I approached the end of the third lap, the voice came in and said "400 meters left to reach your goal". 400 meters? That's just one lap around a track. Surely I can finish my two miles. So I stretched it out and went the full two miles.

In addition to telling me my distance, the Nike+ attachment lets me know my current progress and pace at any time by pushing the center button. Tonight, after getting home from work, I plugged my iPod into the PC and it uploaded my run. It was really interesting to see the chart of my pace as I covered the distance. Turns out, I'm pretty good at holding a steady pace. The problem is my pace is too slow. I averaged just under an 11 minute mile pace for the entire run. I'd really like to push that under the 10 minute mile mark, so it looks like I have some work to do.

It's going to be really interesting tracking my runs with these devices.

Total Distance: 2.54 miles
Total Time: 32:32
Calories Burned: 443

Wii - Two Months Later

We've had the Nintendo Wii for a couple of months now, and I thought I should get back and give an updated review. The Wii is awesome! This is such a cool toy! I had some fears when I first got it that it would be fun for a little but, but then lose it's luster as the controls turned out to be a gimmick. I'm glad that I can safely set those fears to rest. I received a couple of new games for Christmas - Excite Truck and Rayman and the Ravings Rabbids. Both are incredibly fun and take good advantage of the new control scheme. Excite Truck uses the controller as a steering wheel, which took me a bit to adjust to but Jenn picked up very intuitively. Raving Rabbids is a bunch of mini-games that have you perform different tasks with the remote, from drawing on the screen to navigating a plane and shooting in a first person shooter. Each game takes only a few minutes to play, and they are so goofy that you can't help but laugh playing them.

One thing I would definitely recommend is that anyone with a Wii and an HD television is to go get the component cables. I picked up a set at Best Buy this weekend for $25 and the difference was amazing. Now keep in mind, the Wii can only output 480p, otherwise known as progressive scan or Enhanced Definition (ED) mode. So it isn't going to take advantage of a true hi-def set like a playstation 3 or XBox 360 will. Still, if your television supports 480p, the difference is amazing. All of the colors in Zelda : Twighlight princess are brighter and warmer. I really wasn't expecting such an incredible improvement in picture by going to progressive scan, but it has to be seen to be believed. In my opinion, the new cables are just good a buy as an extra nun-chuk, they will add a lot to your gaming experience.

Happy Birthday Jeff

We are Temporarily Experiencing Technical Difficulty

If you have been trying to view our family blog, it's having some issues. Google just upgraded their Blogger system to version 2.0, and in the process it looks like team blogs (like our family site) are caught in limbo. We can't post to it, so no updates for now. As soon as it is back up, we'll have some more pictures and comments from the holidays.

Jade Mason