Monday, November 17, 2014

[REVIEW] Life With the Jawbone UP24

This is my review of the UP 24. This is not a problem/solution post like I generally put on here.

I have been using the UP 24 for a little over a month now, and I really like it. Below I'll discuss my opinions of the features.

Workout/activity feature

This gives you a way to start and stop tracking before and after a workout and then later specify what the activity was to get a better calorie burn estimate.


This lets you set the UP to a more exact estimate of distance by using the activity tracking feature for a walk of known distance and then telling the up what the actual distance was after you are finished. After doing this, I saw about a 20% decrease in distance so this may be important for other tall folks like myself.

Food tracking

I haven't used the built-in food tracking, but the integration with My Fitness Pal is really solid. The up can update your totals in MFP and add extra exercise calories for you to know when you have more room to feast that day. Your food gets imported into the built-in food tracking so you can get tips and advice about your diet there.


This is not really a running tracker by itself, but I'm happy to report that it integrates really well with other services and (indirectly) devices. There is integration with Runkeeper, Strava, and MapMyFitness to name a few. I used to use a smartphone with Runkeeper to track my runs, but I moved to using a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor which is one of the cheaper heart-rate chest strap/GPS watches I found at the time.  The way I sync is by uploading from the Forerunner to MapMyFitness (through their site with the Garmin Express browser plugin). MapMyFitness syncs with the UP and feeds in my workout data so the UP knows that all the steps during a certain time were really part of this run which has a presumably more accurate calorie burn estimate with GPS/HR data than steps alone. This activity then generates calories adjustments in my food tracker app of choice (via Up Integration). In this sort of setup, it is important to connect each app to up without connecting them to each other to avoid double counts such as Map My Fitness -> UP -> My Fitness Pal and  Map My Fitness -> My Fitness Pal counting the same exercise.

I do wish I had a GPS watch with bluetooth so it could automatically upload to my phone rather than having to go sit at my desktop, but that is not a failing of the UP. In fact, I notice it so much because the UP quietly syncs all the time via its low power bluetooth. When you track runs through a third-party app, you don't have to start/stop the activity timer on the up. I wear it to keep my step count accurate, but it just passively monitors and then gets updated with the activity.


The up can track your sleep pretty nicely. It will show you when you are up, in deep sleep, or in light sleep. They claim the MotionX tech allows it to be about 95% as accurate as a professional sleep study in this regard because it was calibrated against actual sleep study data. I thought this was pretty cool before I got it, but now I would say it alone may justify buying the UP 24. It makes you very aware of how much or little you are sleeping AND the quality of that sleep. Seeing a graph of your actual deep/light sleep time is infinitely more useful than just asking yourself if you feel tired or awake that day. It allows you to know when your sleep is bad so you can make some adjustments to your exercise, bedtime, eating, or caffeine.

To activate this feature, you just hold the button until the moon lights up on the band. When you wake up, just hold it down again. The Caffeine app allows you to track your caffeine consumption and can advise you on intake based on how it impacts your sleep. This app does not yet exist for Android, but it is on iPhone.

You set a goal for nightly sleep, and the app will tell you what percentage of that goal was achieved.

Smart Alarm

This feature allows the band will vibrate to wake you within a certain number of minutes of some time that you set in order to wake you up when you are at a lighter point in your sleep cycle. This supposedly leaves you feeling more refreshed. You set the time range and the wake up target time. You also set the days of the week this alarm should fire. I use this instead of a regular alarm clock now, and my waking is usually more pleasant. 

Power Nap

This allows you to take a short nap and get woken up by vibration. To activate, you tap and then hold the button until it lights up.

Step Tracking

The step tracking seems fairly accurate, and it displays the frequency of your steps in periods throughout the day as a graph of yellow to red bars on a histogram. It shows you percentage of your goal steps and lets you know when you are on a multiday streak of meeting your goals which can be motivating.


It uses a customized USB cable with a headphone adapter to charge. It charges very quickly, and can run for about 15 days maximum. I usually charge it one or two mornings a week while I shower.

Activity Feed

The app will give you tailored recommendations and tips based on sleep, food intake, and exercise. So far, it has pointed me to some pretty good information about running techniques, diet, and general health.


I've been quite happy with the UP, and I would recommend it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Expanding a KVM guest disk without LVM!

I recently ran out of space on my primary home server kernel virtual machine (Linux Mint) because I created the disk with a paltry 20G of space. To remedy this, I decided to add 30 additional gigabytes. The following are the steps I took.

Note that step 4 is potentially dangerous (specifically deleting and then re-creating the root partition), and setting the system up with LVM would have prevented me having to do it but if you are following this guide you are in the same situation and can't really benefit from could have/should have thoughts. :-) Anyway, everything worked fine when I was done.

  1. Shut down the guest (on host)
    1. virsh -connect qemu:///system
    2. shutdown your-guest-domain-name
  2. Expand virtual disk (on host)
    1. qemu-img resize guest-disk.img +30G
  3. Restart virtual machine (on host)
    1. virsh -connect qemu:///system
    2. start your-guest-domain-name
  4. Expand ext4 partition and filesystem on bare disk (on the guest)
    1. I followed this guide to the letter to resize the root os partition, reboot, and then expand the filesystem

Jawbone UP24 App Crashing After Personalization

Recently I got a nice large persimmon Jawbone UP 24 after seeing how useful my wife's was for fitness and sleep tracking, and the persimmon color is pretty cheap and looks good on either sex. Unfortunately, I was very frustrated trying to get it to work with my Android-based Oneplus One due to app issues preventing me from completing the setup. After lots of trial and error, I finally figured out an odd set of steps that got it working:

  1. If you haven't signed up for an account already, sign-up in the app. During signup the app may become non-responsive and crash. This is fine.
  2. Now sign-up again with the same account information and uncheck the e-mail notifications before proceeding. If you are getting a message about the account already existing, something is different than what I ran into and my solution probably won't work.
  3. When you hit next/okay at this point it may just return you to the e-mail/password screen. Keep at it, eventually it will move on. I theorize that something at this stage causes the problem to be resolved.
  4. Run through personalization, and you will be rewarded by it completing successfully.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

RDP broken on Linux Mint (possibly after upgrading)

I am a fan of SSH of course, but RDP is pretty rock solid and easy to set up for remote desktop sessions and has given me a lot less trouble than nomachine setup that I used to use.

You used to have nice RDP sessions to your Linux server with xrdp. However, suddenly you get to a grey or checkerboard screen with an X for your cursor that never goes away after entering your login credentials. I encountered this after I took my main home server virtual machine from Mint 14 to Mint 17 in a single step.

Specify the use of a mate session (if using mate) rather than an X11 session as described in this forum post.

Monday, February 10, 2014

nvidia-settings don't load on reboot

This seems to no longer fix the problem for me lately after an upgrade to Mint 17, and I'm unsure why.


You are using an Ubuntu/Mint/Debian with an Nvidia driver (or perhaps another proprietary GPU driver), and your custom resolutions are lost at each restart even though you applied them and saved to xorg.conf. This frustrates you to no end, and even if you script a live modeline change putting your box to sleep or a reboot will mean it doesn't get automatically reapplied. Also, your settings don't get reloaded into the settings GUI after a reboot, and you are mystified.

The built-in Mint Preferences > Displays tool doesn't give a crap about your custom configuration, and it will reload whatever it had set previously just to torture you. You can kill it with fire though. To see if it has a settings file look for a ~/.config/monitors.xml file.

You may not need the first four steps, or you may have already performed them.

  1. sudo nvidia-xconfig    # create a fresh xorg.conf
  2. gksudo nvidia-settings # set it up like you wanted it; my overscan fix example
  3. Click "apply"
  4. Click "save to x-config file"
  5. rm ~/.config/monitors.xml  # get rid of the non-xorg Displays configuration
  6. restart
I have seen this problem again and again on forums where nobody knew that deleting that file would fix the problems. Spread the word my friends.