beauty isn’t everything

misfit shineI really wanted to love my Misfit Shine fitness tracker when i wrote about it back in mid-September (here). At that time I had just used it a few weeks. It was beautiful and novel and had potential — potential for me to go electronic. But I am sad to say this little beauty has been a huge disappointment. So before you spend your dollars read on . . .

The issues:

  • syncing is a challenge. While it is supposed to sync automatically when near your iPhone’s open app, it only does so when it damn well feels like it. Manual syncing can take 6-7 attempts before it is successful.
  • often it doesn’t differentiate days and puts all my activity together on one day, even though it might have occurred over successive days.
  • customer service is slow and poor — after an app update, I just couldn’t get my misfit to sync so I contacted customer service through the app. 3 weeks later I got a response saying sometimes it just takes time to sync. After several days, the function did start working again.
  • the beta system for alternate exercises is very hit or miss. I chose this fitness tracker over others because it can track swimming. You are supposed to tap 3 times before starting so it recognizes you are doing your chosen alternate activity. Only there is no indication that it has recognized your taps and is a 50/50 shot whether it tracks the activity at all. And some of those times, it just tracks swimming as walking instead.
  • adding manual tracking (just for the above situation) was a welcome update recently. But unfortunately whatever you track manually doesn’t count towards your daily total. So what’s the point? If I forget to wear the tracker or it doesn’t record my activity due to a glitch, my day can look like a big goose egg.
  • the battery is supposed to last 3-4 months. I barely got 2 months out of my first battery.

so back to paper and pencil for me. I hear the newer cheaper version is a bit more responsive to touch so may sync or track alternate activities with more success. If you are eager to try, I’d try one of those. Not as pretty but you can’t have everything.

favorite apps

The things you can do from your iPhone these days still amaze me. From navigating through a foreign land, to hailing a cab, to paying for lunch. It’s all so easy and still gives me a thrill each and every day. Maybe I’m just of that age where the technology was introduced just late enough that I remember life before a little too clearly. But boy, I like it! Here are my current top 10 favorite apps that get a regular workout on my phone these days:

PostmatesPostmates — if you’re a regular reader you’ll no doubt remember that Postmates offered free ice cream delivered to your door on National Ice Cream day. That freebie is indicative of the types of regular promotions this service offers in addition to delivery of just about anything your heart desires, especially food from your favorite restaurant that doesn’t normally deliver. Charges are based on distance and no cash changes hands (except for tips). Available in most major cities.

mobile nowMobile Now! — you don’t need coins for a parking meter anymore, or annoying $2-3 charges on your credit card. Simply type in the space number on your meter and you’re all set to park. Stop your session at any time or get a text reminder that your time is about to expire. Top up your account to any amount you like and it automatically refills when you hit zero. This app has saved me from parking tickets more than once. Not all cities use this app but they should!

NPRKCRW — Simply the best NPR station in the country. You can listen to what’s live on air or choose from a series of taped shows. Makes me a little less homesick for LA.




Nat Mall DCThe National Mall by Bluebrain — Music composed for your interaction with The National Mall in Washington, DC. Just launch the app, don headphones and the music plays and seamlessly transitions according to your location. I also have a similar app for Central Park in NYC but that no longer seems available for download. A truly wonderful location based experience, the brainchild of two local composer brothers.

tripcaseTripcase — If you like to travel, this app will keep you organized. Make a reservation of any kind — airplane, train, hotel, air bnb, car rental, etc . . . and simply forward the confirmation email to the provided address and it loads all the details to your profile by trip. It keeps up with you as your trip unfolds and provides up to the minute gate information (even before it hits the airport displays), alerts you to delays, indicates alternate flights (just in case), gives directions and even has a direct link to Uber. Travel made simple

silver carSilver Car — all Audi A4 rentals, all the time with no lines, no hassle. Free Wi-Fi and GPS with every car. Simply deplane, proceed to your car, use your iPhone to unlock and go. Return with the push of a button and your receipt is emailed to you. Couldn’t be simpler when you need decent wheels. Limited cities currently (LA, Dallas, Phoenix, Austin, Miami, Denver, San Francisco). Cars rent at approx. $80/day, include unlimited miles, and fair pricing gas (local price plus $5 fee) so no need to stop and fill up in a sketchy neighborhood on your way to the airport.

Melbourne PTPublic Transport Victoria — my time in Melbourne wouldn’t be as easy without this handy app. It tells me the best way to get to anywhere by tram, bus or train. Simply type in the address where you want to go and you get door to door instructions with available times for your public transport method. I used a similar app in Auckland and made it far and wide across that city without fail. So the lesson is your local public transport authority usually has the best solution for free. Wi-fi or 4G required.

WellsFargoBanking Apps — check deposit by app has changed my life. I can’t recall the last time i went to an ATM or into an actual bank. But should you need to, with the push of a button the closest location will reveal itself. Pay Bills, transfer funds, check balances, deposit checks. Now if only it could dispense cash and life would be really good — but I assume that soon, we will be a cashless society so no worries there.


FandangoFandango — I keep all my favorite theaters listed so I can check out what’s playing near me and show times. For a small fee, you can even buy advance tickets, usually saving time and long lines at the theater. Also provides reviews, trailers and probably a million other movie-biz tid-bits I never even bother with. I’m just in it for the convenience.


PinterestPinterest — I am not a game girl. So to keep me occupied while waiting idly somewhere, I turn to Pinterest. It’s all the visual stimulation I need.

shine shine shine

Here’s how it’s gone in the past. I get on a health kick and I decide I want to work out X days a week for X months and I make a numbered sheet of paper that sits on my desk. Then each day I dutifully write down my activity next to the appropriate number. Old school.

A few weeks ago I started a new workout regime and I decided to chuck the idea of paper and pencil and get myself a fitness tracker. My tracker of choice: The Misfit SHINE. Why? Because it’s sexy as all hell! And it’s the only tracker that works for swimming.

Misfit ShineDesigned by an ex Apple guy, the SHINE is a sensuous disc engineered from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum with embedded LED lights that indicate your progress with a simple tap. It’s just a bit larger than a quarter. And did I mention it looks cool?

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.50.10 AMClasp it on anywhere. Or wear it in a sports band like a watch (recommended for swimming). Or even wear it like a piece of jewelry in a necklace holder or mesh watchband for a fashion twist.

Looks aside, here’s the poop on the SHINE:

  1. It functions as a watch, an activity tracker and a sleep monitor (haven’t tried that yet as I don’t wear mine 24/7)
  2. You set your goals in the coordinating App and it tracks your progress
  3. Incredibly accurate at sensing your activity and recording the minutes, steps, calories burned and converts them all into a point system.
  4. For swimming, biking, tennis, basketball or soccer you’ll need to set your app to tag that activity and remember to tap 3 times before beginning so your SHINE knows you are doing something other than walking or running. Warning: This system is BETA and doesn’t always recognize the 3 taps so doesn’t always accurately track your chosen activity.
  5. Has the ability to sync with the App wirelessly but is hit or miss in doing so. The more fun option is to tap your SHINE directly on the glass of your phone and sync it manually.
  6. Doesn’t need charging. Runs on a simple watch battery you change out every 4-6 months. (Careful, opening the shine can lead to scratching if you’re not careful.)
  7. Into photographing your food? Track your meals by uploading an image to your daily log. Easier than writing it down I guess.
  8. Has the ability to link with social media making your activity a social event or friendly competition. Choose to share with just your friends or the whole Misfit community. (Also seems a great tool for sharing progress with a trainer or nutritionist.)
  9. You can see your progress by the day or the week.

Misfit AppHopefully in time, the functionality of the app will increase and the noted bugs will be worked out. But in the meantime, it sure looks good and is a fun toy. Will be interesting to see how it fares once the Apple Watch comes out next year that in addition to activity tracking (no swimming though) has a heart rate monitor plus a multitude of other functions . . . and a mega price tag.

For $99 the SHINE comes with one battery, a clap holder and a sports band. But I got mine during a back to school special for just $79.

NEWS FLASH:  Doesn’t always pay to be an early adopter. There’s a new version coming out later this year called the FLASH that is made of soft touch materials in bright colors, is slightly thicker and will run only $50. More sporty look with the same general functionality. Available now for pre-order.

meet coin

Come on, that’s pretty cool. I know many who have pre-ordered. For 50% savings I’m strongly considering it myself. Plus, there is a referral program and you can save another $5. But better hurry, shipping begins this summer and the price will double. Still worth it I say.