Lifestyle and Health (aka what I saw at Quantified Self Europe Part 2!)

I know that my first post about QS2011 was back in November and I had promised a second one. Here is that post after mulling over it for more than three months.

At the QS2011 conference, there were so many devices to track activity – Fitbit, Basis band, pedometers etc. Many of the participants (including yours truly) had tried these tools or were planning to. I realized that I had started using Fitbit and stopped and here is why I stopped.

Fitbit is a versatile device which can work as a pedometer during the day and sleep monitor at night. You just keep wearing it and it will automatically upload the stats online so that you can compare and evaluate them on your computer.

I also tried the tool for 2-3 weeks. I stopped after I noticed that consistently I was walking 4-5 kms of distance everyday. This would never happen when I was living in the US. So this is what convinced me that tools like fitbit cannot really help in an active lifestyle.

I realized that I had bought Fitbit to make sure that I was getting the required amount of walking/running everyday. But in the USA where I used to jump into a car to go anywhere, I needed an external measure to tell me that I have not been very active that day.

Fast forward to life in France and things have changed. I hardly use the car. All the places that I go to daily (grocery stores, school etc) are all within 1-2 km distance. And more importantly, driving a car is a real nuisance due to bad traffic and hard to get parking. This means that everytime, I need to go anywhere in the vicinity of 1-2 km one way, I almost always choose to walk.

This got me thinking. The real key to getting a healthy lifestyle is NOT these gadgets but a lifestyle where you walk and are on your feet most of the time as our bodies were expected to. No point in slapping on a gadget to see how many steps we have walked after spending 3-4 hours driving in a car!

Now there is new research which suggests that if one spends a very active one hour in the gym and then sits in front of a desk all day, it is just as bad as having a sedentary lifestyle. Considering this, the only way to stay healthy is to be active all day. What better way to be active than to include physical activity to go with your daily activities like going to work, shopping etc? No gadget can do that for us! Only we can choose to.


Startup Depression?

You might have heard about it. Most start up founders get depressed. (Here are exhibits A, B and C). I read about it and in my naivete, I thought I was immune to it. This is a post to put my depression out into the world and hope that it also helps some other founder who might experience it during their startup life.

As with everyone, I have had my share of depression. The good thing is that I get out of it soon thanks to my awesome wife and son. So far most of these episodes have not affected me longer than a day. Like they recommend in the exhibits above, surrounding myself with awesome family and friends is a good way to get out of the d-spot when it hits you.

This time it was different. We encountered a problem with our Android app. You can read about it here. The issue was that we had done everything we could to test the app before it was released to the market and yet we encountered this problem. We even tested the app once again using the Android 2.3 emulator but we could not replicate the issue.

I have to give credit to our awesome users throughout this process. They were extremely nice and willing to provide screen shots, logs and any other information that we needed to identify this issue. One of them even sent us an email saying “Don’t be embarrassed about this problem. I am glad to help you guys since you are creating such an useful tool for people like us!”.

But even with these words of encouragement, I felt depressed. I realize now that my depression had to do with the fact that I am unable to do much about this problem (mainly because I am not developing the Android app). Looks like one of the ways I have been staying clear of depression is to meet my problems head on and take care of them. Since in this case, I cannot take a hands on approach to solve it (by writing code myself!), I felt depressed. Very.

Once I realized this, I knew that the only thing that I can do is to go to the other ways to tackle the d-situation. Go back to family and let the knowledgeable people solve the problem they know and understand very well. So I went for a walk with my son, talked about people, sky, earth and the moon and I am now back to being my normal self.

BTW, the Android problem is still unsolved. I know that having the confidence that it will be solved is almost 90% of the way there. I will hopefully post an update on that front soon.

The Connection was reset?!

You might have encountered this error at one time or another when you try to access a website. The browser suddenly gives you an error which says “The connection was reset”. See the attached image of how it looked like on my browser.

The problem in my case was that I was getting this error every time. And this would happen every time I accessed a domain that I OWNED!


So I called, who hosts my domain and is the registrar for my domain. The agent initially denied that there was a problem (after checking it and discussing it with someone). Then I explained that of all the domains that I visit, I get errors only on this one domain. Then he told me that he will do another check with another “server admin”.


Then sure enough, he came back with this explanation “your website has been experiencing some strange activity lately and in order to protect your website, godaddy has instituted a security layer. Your website is still up and running but this security layer helps in preventing the strange activities and will only prevent those with malicious intent from accessing your site”.


I don’t know if Godaddy wanted me to feel great about this but I did not feel that way at all. I know myself really well and I DO NOT have any malicious intent about my own website! So armed with this confidence, I requested him to remove the security layer which was targeting me from accessing the site. He asked me for a bunch of technical details like my IPAddress, trace route output etc which I duly provided.


After all this, the agent tells me that “Godaddy does not guarantee that they will consider my request favorably. They also will not inform me in any way (phone, email etc) on how they have addressed this problem”. This was the last straw! After making my access to my own website difficult, how can Godaddy claim that they will not guarantee that I can access my site? After mentioning this to him, the agent understood the absurdity of the situation and he told me that “Godaddy will probably address this issue in 72 hours but they cannot give me an update about this”.


Now I am seriously considering moving out of Godaddy. Any options on where to go?