Strava performance graph with Mi Fit2 Heartbeat data

Using the Mi Fit2 bracelet with Strava

Strava performance graph with Mi Fit2 Heartbeat data

A few days back I got a Xiǎomǐ Mi Fit2 bracelet, and I recently discovered that it can be used with Strava on iOS to capture heart-rate data. Putting together the heart-rate data with the biking data is something I had to do manually with my Fitbit, with the Mi Fit2 it is reasonably easy.

Mi Fit App Experimental Menu
As far as I can tell, the moment the Mi Fit2 is paired with your phone, it is recognised by Strava as a heart-rate measurement device. Maybe it implements the relevant Bluetooth LE profile. The problem is, the Mi Fit2 only measures the heart-rate when you tell it, i.e. when the heart-rate is selected on the watch.

The way to force the device to measure the heart-rate regularly is by the way of the App. The following instruction are based on Mi Fit app version 2.4.3 (algorithm 1.0.95). Go to the play menu, scroll to the experimental section, and select behaviour tagging, and then select the relevant activity (there is biking). One thing to know is to stop you have to tap and hold the pause button and after some time, the option to end appears. As long as the activity lasts, the bracelet will measure the heart-rate regularly.

Flattr this!

Upcycled Jeans Cases – various assembly stages

Google-Serve 2017

Upcycled Jeans Cases – various assembly stages

Every year, I have the opportunity to spend the day helping some social cause. This year, I spent a morning helping at social fabric, an association that helps refugees with sewing classes. We spent the morning building make-up cases which will serve as reward for a crowd-funding campaign later this year. The cases are built from recycled jeans, so our tasks where to cut up old jeans and sew them into the basic part of the case’s hull.

I really liked this project, I usually select projects where I can do something with my hands and don’t involve coding and I had done any serious sewing in ages, I learnt how to use a sewing machine in primary school, but this is really a long time ago. This association was also well prepared to handle our group: up-cycling is a labor intensive task, which can be well handled by a group, and we were organised in groups that performed the various stages of the assembly. Using our work to boot-strap a crowd-funding campaign was a smart way of using the available staff.

Recycling jeans might sound like a trivial operation, but this is something than cannot be done at scale, you need to find good areas in the jeans to cut the pieces, you get more by removing the sewn elements, like pockets, but this is even more work, we had sewing machines, but no un-sewing machines. This is a shame because the elements of fabric behind the pockets yield the most interesting patterns, the stitched areas are darker as they were protected from the washing. This is similar to what happens with bags, the interesting ones are cut on some pattern of the truck’s tarp.

One of the organisers asked me if I was considering buying a sewing machine, I had to admit that they are cool, if I had the space and time to learn to use them properly, I certainly would. All in all this was an excellent Google Serve, I just felt it was a tad short, I could have done a full day, in particular as this one was really close to home. I look forward to next year.

Flattr this!

Mi Fit2

Xiǎomǐ Mi Fit2

Mi Fit2

I have been playing with wearables for some time, I bought my first pedometer in Japan (which I promptly lost). I’m no fan of big watches but I like having a bracelet that shows me the time and the important notifications.

In the past year, I went over multiple variants of the Fitbit charge, I broke the first by stepping on it, the second, the HR version, died because of some firmware update, I got a replacement – the next had the bracelet getting unglued, which I also got replaced, but that replacement also ended up with the bracelet unglued. The charging cables also started to work unreliably.

I did not feel trying getting another replacement, and I got really tired of the Fitbit software: no HealthKit support (I had to get a special app to do that), more annoyingly, even though the device captures the heart-rate the whole time, the data is not accessible, having a device that records data which you cannot get is worse than useless.

So I decided to go with Xiǎomǐ’s Mi’s Fit2. The review said the device was cheap and simple, with a very good battery life. I have been wearing it for more than a week and I must say the review were correct, the battery is still 42% full. Superficially, the device is similar to the Fitbit HR: a plastic bracelet with a display, with a heart rate sensor and single button.

A closer look shows a much smarter design, the device itself is a pill that can be pulled out of the bracelet, so you can swap bracelets and expose the charging connector. This means a broken bracelet is not a big problem, and that the charging connectors do not get dirty (a problem with the charge HR), as the charging connector grasp the whole pill, the connection is also more reliable when they are dangling off a wall charger.

I had a similar feeling with the software. The Fitbit software was always an over-designed mess, with some distinctive and confusing UI, that tried to do everything: you could track exercise, set goals, record meals, calories, water intake. There was desktop client (the device came with a special USB-bluetooth dongle), a web client. The device could notify for phone calls and SMS messages, but nothing else. Firmware updates just brought absurd features like the ability to set the text of the message displayed when the device was charged. Integration with other services was bad, integration with host operating system was horrible, no HealthKit integration, notification support.

The Mi software took the opposite route: the software does way less, but does it better. Localisation is there from the start, and imperial units are not not the default, neither are Chinese units (the device supports measuring the weight in 市斤 (jīn)< (rp>, which is 500 grams), the device can dispatch phone and SMS notification, but it also supports most of the chat applications installed on my phone: WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Skype. Calendar and e-Mail notifications are also supported. The notifications simply display the App’s icon. Having more information would be cool, but complicated with the vertical screen. English translation of the UI is a bit weird (notifications are in the play menu, but nothing serious.

The vertical screen makes a lot of sense for a bracelet, in particular when you target the Chinese market – writing Chinese vertically is much more natural than it is for latin text. The lack of desktop support also makes sense, it these markets, the computer is the rare exception.

I feel the Mi Fit2 is way less ambitious than the Fitbit HR, it tries less to be a fitness band and more to be an everyday device, with its cheap price, good software support, long battery, and exchangeable bracelets, I think it is a better device. Of course things could be improved, but at least the basics are there.

Flattr this!

Hertzlichen Dank • Merci beaucoup
GS1 Switzerland

Cadeaux

Herzlichen Dank • Merci beaucoup
GS1 Switzerland

Pour ma présentation à la Systemtagung GS1, j’ai reçu un cadeau : trois pots de miels. S’il est de coutume d’offrir aux intervenants un cadeau, c’est probablement un des meilleurs cadeaux que j’ai reçu à une conférence.

Pourquoi ? D’abord c’est un produit consommable, chaque fois que je reçois un objet non consommable en cadeau, je me pose la question, vais-je le garder ? Pourquoi faire ? Où vais-je le ranger ? Rien de pire comme cadeau qu’un presse papier qui sera jeté directement, sans pouvoir même être recyclé. Ensuite, ce n’est ni une sucrerie, ni de l’alcool, des cadeaux consommables classiques, mais qu’on préfèrerais ne pas consommer dans le premier cas et qu’on ne consomme pas réellement dans le second – qui n’a pas une étagère chez soi avec une collection de bouteilles d’alcools intéressants qu’on ne touche que rarement ?

Philosophiquement, offrir un objet permanent à quelqu’un, c’est prétendre avoir un rôle dans sa vie, un livre ou un vêtement ne sont pas toujours des cadeaux innocent. Offrir un objet impermanent, c’est n’avoir un rôle que durant un cours laps de temps – si ce faisant, le cadeau améliore ou change un peu l’ordinaire, c’est déjà beaucoup…

Flattr this!

Matthias Wiesmann talking

GS1 Systemtagung

Matthias Wiesmann talking

This week, I attended the Swiss GS1 Systemtagung in Olten, a workshop on GS1 standards and related matters. There were three main themes: digital bills, food labelling legislation and GDSN. I also gave a presentation about the use of GTINs in Google Shopping.

The conference started with a presentation on the importance of standards – interesting even though I don’t need to be convinced about that. I found the sessions on digital bills very interesting, while there are EDI solutions for electronic billing, they don’t scale well for partners who exchange bills infrequently. The proposal for Switzerland follows a german standard: . This standard is pretty elegant: attach machine readable XML to the PDF file of the bill. The file can be sent around by e-mail or any other messaging system. The attachment contains (ISO TS 20625), the PDF follows the PDF/A-3 standard (ISO 19005-3). The approach is very similar to what is done on the web, where machine readable information in the format is embedded within the HTML, either in JSON-LD format, or in micro-data annotations. The standard seems to be on track to become adopted also in France and in Switzerland and could be used for other forms of documents besides bills.

The second session was about food labelling. I found the rules pretty pragmatic: only industrial packaged good need to be labelled, other products (handmade things, as well as artisanal produce) are exempt, but the information has to be available either in some sign or orally. The general expectation is that farmers selling pots of jam don’t have to do the exact nutrient analysis, although I wonder if in five years this won’t be doable with a small mobile phone ad-on.

The last session was about the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). This is basically the internet version of the old EDI point to point links, producers push product information into the network and retailers, but also certification agencies can consume this product data. The goal is that a seller only needs to provide the data once, instead of doing it for each retailer they want to sell their product with. The presentations were mostly various companies explaining their experiences setting up the system, which a big emphasis on the internal work to collect and structure the data internally.

All in all it was a very interesting conference, and I was very honoured to be allowed to present there.

Flattr this!

Carte du début de la paix en Europe

Quand la paix éclata en Europe

Carte du début de la paix en Europe

Avoir un enfant chamboule les priorités dans la vie, ce qui n’empêche pas le monde de tourner et de changer, un peu comme dans le film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead qui voit Hamlet se dérouler dans le fond. Les douze derniers mois ont vu une actualité riche et parfois surprenante, avec (peut-être) la fin de l’atlantisme européen.

Un évènement historique invite à plonger dans l’histoire, avec – j’ai l’impression – une narration récurrente d’une période de paix qui a débuté avec la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale, en 1945, ce qui ne colle pas très bien avec ma perception de l’histoire européenne.

Je me suis donc livré à un petit exercice : dessiner la carte du début de la paix en Europe. L’idée est simple, pour chaque pays actuel en Europe, marquer la date à partir de laquelle le pays n’a pas été impliqué dans une guerre. J’ai inclus les révolutions violentes, les guerres civiles, et les guerres coloniales, mais exclu les opérations sous mandant international. Je ne prétend pas que cette carte soit exacte, mais cela donne une vision bien plus nuancée de l’Europe.

Les données sont dans ce fichier javascript, la carte dynamique ci-dessous – les nom de pays sont en Anglais.

Flattr this!

Two Lions Holding The Zürich Flag

Country Codes

Two Lions Holding The Zürich Flag

The initial emoji flags were restricted to a small set o countries, which was pretty discriminatory, the regional indicators were added to Unicode to avoid this issue, but this only allowed entities which have defined ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes. This allowed to side-step the issue of quasi-countries like Taiwan or Palestine, which have ISO codes even if they are not widely recognised as countries. Confusingly, some weird colonies like or are supported, but not the significant divisions of Great Britain (like England).

Change is a problem: characters tend to have a longer life that countries. Many countries have come and gone since my birth; even if the Soviet Union has disappeared and its country code is officially deprecated, old texts referring to it still exist, and so do graphical representations of its flag. What will happen when a country whose flag has been emojified disappears and its country code is unassigned? People complained that the system does support regional flags that appear in sporting competitions, like Scotland. Yet some of these might become country flags soon.

To make things a bit more confusing, many organisations which are not countries are assigned codes, some of which like the UN (:united_nations:) or the EU have flags. You can see what is supported on not on the test page, which I updated. Apple support the EU flag, but not the UN. Still, what is the flag of the Eurozone? You could composite a euro sign with a flag, maybe. The funny thing is, there is character for some euro bills (💶) similar characters exist for the US dollar and the British pound, but no other currency. It would have been more logical to represent them as composite characters, a banknote character and zero width joiner with the currency symbol.

Things are not going to get simpler, there is a proposal to encode country sub-divisions (like England, Wales, the US states, but also things like Swiss cantons). surprisingly these flags are not encoded using the regional indicator range, but instead the flag character (🏴) and characters in the tag range. So for instance the flag of Zürich would be the sequence 🏴󠁣󠁨󠁺󠁨󠁿 (black-flag, tag-C, tag-H, tag-Z, tag-H, tag-cancel). There is a test page using the Babel Font.

Flattr this!

Macht Ferien!
Museum für Gestaltung im Tony Areal

Partez en vacances

Macht Ferien!
Museum für Gestaltung im Tony Areal

L’arrivée tardif du temps estival et la visite d’une amie à Zürich ont fourni une très bonne excuse pour visiter l’exposition du Museum für Gestaltung (musée du design) à Zürich. Cette exposition célèbre les 100 ans de l’organisme et expose une collection d’affiches touristiques vantant les beautés, depuis les peintures du début du siècle jusqu’au photo montages des années 70, en passant par les posters art déco aux aplats épurés.

Même si l’exposition est dans les nouveaux locaux, dans l’ancienne usine laitière Toni, elle n’est pas très grande et nous avons aussi visité l’exposition sur les marionnettes qui se tient en parallèle, malgré cela, je l’ai trouvé très bien faite. Lorsqu’on vit en Suisse, on oublie facilement que la tradition touristique en Suisse est ancienne, et que les artistes travaillant sur ces posters, par exemple , ont eu une grande influence dans le monde du graphisme.

Outre les affiches, l’exposition contient différents films touristiques (qui peuvent très bien être vus sur internet) et une statue cinétique d’une bille d’acier visitant la suisse – je me souviens en avoir vu une similaire au musée des transport à Lucerne il y a très longtemps. Je ne saurais dire si c’est la même.

Bref une exposition sympathique qui vaut la visite si vous êtes à Zürich.

Flattr this!

Blog blog blog. Soit c’est une le début d’une symphonie ou un test d’application, à vous de juger… Hors donc, comme un bazillon d’autres personnes, j’ai à présent un blog. Le but de se truc n’est pas de faire avancer la civilisation ou la culture, mais d’avoir un endroit ou exposer mes idées idiotes, que je pense avoir fort nombreuses. Dans quelle mesure cette initiative pourra être maintenue est une question ouverte, j’espère qu’elle ne souffrira pas d’être une initiative de janvier.

Encryption

Blog blog blog. Soit c’est une le début d’une symphonie ou un test d’application, à vous de juger… Hors donc, comme un bazillon d’autres personnes, j’ai à présent un blog. Le but de se truc n’est pas de faire avancer la civilisation ou la culture, mais d’avoir un endroit ou exposer mes idées idiotes, que je pense avoir fort nombreuses. Dans quelle mesure cette initiative pourra être maintenue est une question ouverte, j’espère qu’elle ne souffrira pas d’être une initiative de janvier.

Last January, this blog turned 12, which in blog years is probably an infinity and half. During this whole time, it ran on the same blogging platform: WordPress, which went over four major revisions. Hosting also changed multiple times, first it ran on the servers of the french ISP free, then on host of a friend, then on a shared machine we rented together with some other friends and now finally it runs on a dedicated host I rent.

I find this migration somehow representative of the Zeitgeist of the web: a blog even as modest as this one is not anymore something that can be run out of a random Unix machine, or as a freebie by an ISP – it seems you can still run WordPress on a personal free account, but there are many restrictions and limitations.

The migration to some dedicated hosting unlocked many features, in particular smoother updates, but also in keeping with the zeitgeist theme, SSL certificates. I honestly don’t think this blog hosts anything subversive, but these days the risk of someone injecting malicious content or getting the identifiers used for commenting is real, so encryption is de rigueur.

Flattr this!

Mat[t]hias Wiesman Tech Lead Google Switzerland

Retour à l’Université

Mat[t]hias Wiesman Tech Lead Google Switzerland

Il y a près de vingt ans, j’ai obtenu mon diplôme es science en Informatique à l’Université de Genève. Peu après, j’ai déménagé à Lausanne pour y faire un doctorat à l’EPFL. J’ai un bon souvenir de mes années à l’université, et c’est avec plaisir que j’ai accepté l’invitation de l’organisation Uni-Emploi de participer à évènement Science Career Days.

La table ronde a lieu dans le bâtiment science Ⅱ, qui fut longtemps ma base, le bâtiment contenait une cafétéria gérée par la Migros, les laboratoires d’informatique, mais aussi les terminaux en accès libre, ainsi que les auditoires où avaient lieu certains cours d’informatique.

Pas mal de choses ont changé à Genève ces vingt dernières années : le réseau de tramway qui s’était contracté à une seule ligne s’est étendu, de nombreux magasins ont fermés, d’autre ont ouverts. En contraste, science Ⅱ a très peu changé : les chaises ont été déplacées, les terminaux VT220 on disparu, on a réorganisé la cafétéria. Le plus frappant pour moi a été l’odeur du bâtiment, qui a fait remonter bien des souvenirs.

La table ronde était intéressante, si le thème était l’industrie 4.0, c’était surtout l’occasion d’expliquer son passage du monde académique vers une position dans l’industrie. Une transition plus ou moins fluide selon les intervenants ; dans aucun cela n’a été le simple passage dans un laboratoire de recherche.

Au moment des questions, c’est pourtant ce passage simple qui semblait intéresser les étudiants, difficile de faire passer le message que c’est plus une exception que la règle que les autres tracés peuvent mener à des carrières tout aussi intéressantes…

Flattr this!