Month: May 2015

Fitbit Charge HR Review

by Amy Hou
Title Officer

As a follow up to Cyrus Sidhwa’s February 26, 2015 post on the Fitbit Flex, this post will talk about the newer Fitbit Charge HR.

I recently received the Fitbit Charge HR for my birthday. With my wedding coming up in less than six months, I was thankful for any bit of help in motivating my fitness goals. Little did I know just how helpful it would be.

Similar to the Flex reviewed by Cyrus, the Charge HR tracks your daily steps and distance travelled. Unlike the Flex, the Charge HR also features the PurePulse™ heart rate monitor that continuously provides your real-time heart rate. I must say the heart rate feature is one of the coolest things about this device. I am able to see my current heart rate as I type this post (66 bpm), track my previous night’s average heart rate during sleep (56 bpm), and check out the heart rate peak from my step class last Friday (171 bpm). Speaking of workouts, since the Charge HR monitors heart rate, it is able to more accurately track the calories burned by a particular workout compared to the Flex. A co-worker has complained to me at the water cooler that his Flex, while great at giving him a fairly accurate calorie burn number when he tracks a run outside, does not give him any credit for any sort of stationary weight training exercise. This makes sense because the Flex is only tracking your movement. Since the Charge HR is also taking your heart rate into account, it provides a more accurate figure and gives “credit” for those stationary weight-training exercises.

Physically, the Charge HR is a tad larger than the Flex with a band about the width of your average sport watch. Also, instead of the lights that illuminate when you tap the Flex, an actual display illuminates when you tap the Charge HR. This display will cycle through key data points like current time, daily total steps, current heart rate, daily distance travelled, daily calories burned, and daily stairs climbed.

Also, one of the complaints Cyrus had about the Flex – the fact that you have to manually tell the device when you are sleeping or waking up in order to use the sleep tracking function – is no longer an issue. The Charge HR, through some sort of pure magic or actual technological advancement, can just tell when you are asleep or awake and tracks that time automatically.

Overall, the Charge HR has been a great motivator. I think the key for me has been the sense of awareness it provides me. When it tells me I have had a very inactive day, I feel pushed to get it together and get my daily numbers up. Even when it tells me I’ve had a super active day, I feel happy but still pushed to keep up the good work. Also, there is a slight social media factor where you can see how your weekly steps compare to those of your Fitbit using friends. If you’re competitive like me, there is nothing like being just a few thousand steps behind your friend, Eunice from college, to ensure that you make it to the gym tonight.

With the help of the Fitbit, this bride is on track to fit into her dress!


Los Angeles Leads the Nation by Approving Hardening Requirements for Cell Towers

by: Sean Maddox, Land Use, and Lynn Whitcher, Associate General Counsel

Lynn: I remember being woken up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning, January 17, 1994. Having been an Angelino for decades, I was used to earthquakes, but not like this. This was DIFFERENT. I was in a suburb of Los Angeles called Rolling Hills, located about 40 miles from the epicenter in Reseda. The rolling went on for 5 seconds, then 10, then 20 . . . In disbelief, I realized at some point that I was going to actually have to get out of bed for this one. It probably didn’t help that I was on a waterbed (hey, it was the 90’s – don’t judge). When it was over, no one called me. Not my mom, not my family or friends (it was 4:30 a.m.!). I didn’t get any messages on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t check the news over the internet. I went back to sleep. It’s funny to think back on that now. If (when) we have the next big earthquake, my mobile would be blowing up (assuming there’s enough capacity). The Northridge Earthquake stripped away some of the city’s complacency regarding earthquakes. When I see the devastation caused by earthquakes in other parts of the world, it somehow feels more personal now. It could – it will – happen again in my lifetime.

Sean: Although growing up in Southern California has given me the experience of feeling quite a few earthquakes, the Northridge earthquake is still the first and only one I vividly remember, even more than 20 years later. My family was located some 60 miles away- far enough from serious danger, but close enough for a serious wakeup call the morning it shook. It was all we could talk about at school, as we waited in nervous anticipation of aftershocks or what else may come. When the aftershocks continued all day, including into that evening, my friends and I were certain Armageddon was upon us. While it turned out that the world would go on, the uncertainty of that day stays with me. I can only imagine the feeling of helplessness that would accompany a major earthquake if cell phone service went down today.

The California Department of Conservation reports that there are hundreds of earthquake faults in California. Approximately 200 are considered potentially hazardous. More than 70 percent of the state’s population resides within 30 miles of a fault where high ground shaking could occur in the next 50 years.

It’s no surprise, then, that Los Angeles, California, would become the first city in the country to approve seismic standards for new cell phone towers. The City will require free-standing tower new‑build facilities to be built to the same seismic standards that apply to public safety facilities. The hardening requirement of a 1.5 Importance Factor is anticipated to increase construction costs 10% to 20%. The requirements would not apply to rooftop sites or to any existing sites.

The industry should embrace this forward thinking change. While cell towers are designed to prevent collapse, they are not currently designed to ensure the towers continue to function in the event of an earthquake. We need to be prepared to serve the public in the event the inevitable “Big One” arrives and people are in their most critical hours of need. Internet and wireless communications have become too integral a part of our society and economy. In the event of any natural disaster, cell phone usage can be expected to spike as frantic calls to loved ones are placed and emergencies are reported. Internet usage will spike too as people research information and resources. Connectivity issues could create delays in emergency response times and disaster recovery efforts. Debris, downed bridges and other hazards resulting from an earthquake could make it difficult for repair crews to repair inoperative towers.

This is a bold, but necessary step. Let’s hope the back-up batteries and generators last too…

Will Small Cells Ever Really Come?

by John Cahill
Vice President of Business Development

At first glance, you might think deploying and activating a small cell would be relatively easy compared to a Macro cell. Turns out that is not necessarily the case. Macro sites are expensive to deploy but provide a “big bang for the buck.” Small cells are very targeted deployments for delivering needed coverage or capacity to the benefit of a much smaller group of users. A small cell, however, still requires space, power and backhaul as well as appropriate RF design, network integration and interoperability, operations and maintenance, all of which potentially contribute to the cost of a successful network addition. Carriers look at Return on Investment as a major differentiator for approving capital projects and small cells are a tough business case.

So where will it go? What are the alternatives? How can the small cell business case be improved?

There is much discussion about the role of Wi-Fi and whether this technology can alleviate or reduce the need for small cells. Wi-Fi is already an integral part of smartphone data usage. Some studies indicate Wi-Fi currently carries over 60% of smartphone data traffic. The thirst for capacity isn’t stopping. Wi-Fi will continue to be a key part of the solution and may even grow but it won’t be the only answer. The integration of Wi-Fi and Cellular LTE, e.g., LTE-Unlicensed and LTE Assist, are key topics the equipment industry is working on to improve alternatives, delivery and performance.

Even with Wi-Fi-LTE integrated solutions such as “plug and play,” self / minimal install and auto provisioning, network integration and self-optimization are the critical requirements for widespread, high volume, small cell deployments. Wi-Fi is a widespread de-facto network technology for office buildings and homes because of the ease of installation and use. There are many models for office network design with installation and maintenance ranging from obtaining a single Wi-Fi router and plugging it into your Internet Access to hiring an Internet Provider/VAR/Integrator to design, install, operate and maintain your entire office network. Small cell deployments need to be the same from a cost as well as deployment, network integration and operation perspective. Cellular small cells need the same deployment options – whether it’s a single unit plug and play solution or a more complex design and installation.   These heterogeneous, site/customer specific delivery models will be required to meet the extensive demands to “light” buildings with cellular network capacity and growth.

For small cells to reach the widespread volumes once envisioned, there must be viable economic deployment alternatives to meet the varied needs of carriers as well as targeted locations.

We Are Always Connected!

Part of the series on How the Smartphone Has Impacted Our Lives

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

The great thing about a smartphone is that you can reach out to someone through multiple avenues anytime and virtually anywhere.  The bad thing about smart phones is that you can be reached by someone through multiple avenues, anytime and virtually anywhere.
– Bob Nichols, Md7 Lease Consultant in San Diego

phonesThe smartphone has made it possible to be reached anytime, anywhere for any reason.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether the constant contact through social media apps has broadened or damaged our personal relationships. Have tweets and status updates made us more superficial and lowered the quality and quantity of meaningful conversations in our lives or have they extended our communication worldwide to people we may not have kept in touch with or even known otherwise?

Md7 team members weigh in on the issue.

Drazen Toic, Md7 International – Manager for SEE Region

The way the smartphone affected my life could be both positive and negative.

While all the information I need workwise is now accessible on my phone anytime, the biggest struggle I find is to stop having my mind always “drag” on work related topics and issues. This aspect has impacted my life in a way that I have to limit myself reading emails when out of working hours.

Lately, when queuing for something in public, I tend to notice how much people in general are less aware of the society passing by and more focused on their smartphones, which I believe is not a great direction humanity is taking.

In addition, I tend to call less and use more messaging services (like Whatsup, email or Viber) which also generates detachment.

Svenja Preisler, Md7 International – Team Lead for D-A-CH Region

Messenger Apps: Who would have thought 10 years ago, that it would be so cheap and easy to keep in touch with friends and family far away.  Whatsapp, Telegramm, Viber… and all the other messenger apps make it possible that we are able to be in constant contact with the people who are far away from us and that we would miss a whole lot more if we would have to wait for their letter to arrive every 2 weeks. They seem to be much closer to us than the actual distance that separates us! Of course, everything has its pros and cons! So I do still write letters.

Pierre-Michel Bertin, Md7 International – Lease Consultant in Dublin, Ireland

I left France to come over to Ireland 8 years ago. Leaving my country, my friends and my family behind was not easy. Communication at the time was a real issue. I could not talk to them when I wanted and it was not free. Skype was great but smartphones did not exist and I had to be at home with a proper Internet connection to call them.

The first iPhone I got really helped me connect with my family and friends again. Then came along apps like Whatsapp that really keep us all close. I have friends in London, Tillburg (Holland), Beijing, Paris, Dublin, etc. and we are all chatting away like we use to do back in France.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a debate entitled “Is Technology Making People Less Sociable?” which addresses both the pros and cons of constant contact.

Personally speaking, I am 100% in support of this huge change in the way we communicate.

While I do have to discipline myself to not check my phone at rude times and focus on those around me, I know that social media has put me back in touch with hundreds of old friends from high school and college. I have also made several new contacts via LinkedIn and even some new industry friends like Patti Ringo who I have since gotten to know personally at trade shows. Without Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter none of these new relationships would even exist.

I’d bet that in 1876 there was a lot of people who were concerned that Alexander Graham Bell’s newly patented telephone was going to negatively impact the amount of face-to-face communication. Today we are just experiencing the latest revolution in the way we communicate and in another 139 years (or sooner) when we can communicate telepathically, there will be many who lament the good ole days of simple social media.