Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Illusion – "Did You See Her Eyes" (1969)

Did you see her eyes?
Did you see her eyes?

I hate to complain, but

(Strike that.  Let me start again.)

Last month, my sister gave me a Fitbit "Flex" for my birthday.  

You know what a Fitbit is, right?  It’s a little gadget you wear on your wrist (like a watch) that tracks how many steps you walk each day, and vibrates in a most satisfying fashion when you reach the number you’ve set as your goal.

I didn’t know until my birthday that my sister had a Fitbit, although it didn’t surprise me when I found out – she is an obsessive exerciser who almost never goes a day without working out.  

And I didn’t know that each of my kids had a Fitbit, which did surprise me.  I’m glad they all do, because it motivates most people to walk or run more.  

None of my kids has a weight problem – all of them were athletes when they were young, and have remained active – but that can change pretty quickly when you have a desk job and start watching games on television rather than playing a sport yourself.  (Or when you’re a woman and you weight problem due to no fault of your own even though you never eat anything more fattening than celery sticks).

The Fitbit "Flex" comes in many different colors
I would never have bought myself a Fitbit.  I walk and ride a bike and referee basketball, and I have a pretty good idea how much I’m exercising – I didn’t really see the need to have something that counted each and every step that I took.  But I would never have bought myself a Kindle either, and I’m very glad that I got one as a gift a few years ago.

When my sister sent me the Fitbit, she enclosed the receipt with it in case I didn’t like it and wanted to return it.  

(My sister takes after my mother.  Every time my mother gives me a gift, she says “You can always exchange if you don’t like it/it’s not the right size/it’s not the right color” as I open it.  I don’t know if that’s just because my mother is a born pessimist when it comes to picking gifts, or because I act so underwhelmed by the gifts I receive that she think that I never like what she gives me.)

The only problem with my sister’s idea was that she bought the Fitbit at a store that’s pretty ubiquitous in her part of the country, but nowhere to be found in the area where I live.  (I would have had to drive two hours to Richmond to return the Fitbit – unless I wanted to box it up and ship it back to the store where my sister bought it, which is almost as big a pain in the ass as driving two hours to Richmond.)

But I didn’t want to return the Fitbit and buy myself something else.  At least not at first.

Most people sync their Fitbits to their smartphones so they can keep track of their steps no matter where they are.  Unfortunately, I’m one of the dying breed of Blackberry users – and Fitbit doesn’t have an app for Blackberrys.  (Not good, Fitbit.)

That meant I was going to have to hook up my Fitbit to my home computer and use that computer to see how many steps I had taken.

But I had trouble getting the Fitbit to sync with my home computer – a Mac that is several years old, but which has the newest version of the Mac operating system.

I won’t bore you with a description of exactly what the problem was.  Suffice it to say that THE DAMN THING DIDN’T WORK WORTH A DAMN!

After wasting half an hour or so going through Fitbit’s online troubleshooting tips, I called Fitbit’s customer support phone number.  The eager-to-please young man who answered responded to my complaints with extraordinarily sincere expressions of sympathy – “I know how frustrating that can be!” – and then told me that my Fitbit’s firmware needed to be updated.  He walked me through that process.

A couple of hours later, I was calling the customer support phone number again because I still couldn’t get my Fitbit to sync with my Mac.  The representative who answered that call told me he was going to send me a new dongle to replace the one that had come with my Fitbit.

(Don’t feel bad . . . I had never heard of a dongle either.  According to Wikipedia, it’s a small piece of computer hardware that provides a means to connect a device to another device wirelessly.)

A Fitbit dongle
The new dongle didn’t work any better than the old one had.  Quelle surprise!

The next rep I spoke to sent me a whole new Fitbit.  He even offered to send me a different-colored wristband for my Fitbit if I wanted sometime a little jazzier than basic black.

OF COURSE that didn’t help either.

While waiting on hold with the third telephone rep, I filled the time by drafting a l-o-n-g and profane e-mail to Fitbit’s customer service folks.  The response I received to my e-mail suggested that I uninstall the Fitbit app from my computer and reinstall it.  I promptly did that – not because I had any hope that it would solve the problem, but just for grins.  I wasn’t disappointed!

On my fourth call, the rep admitted with great sadness that there was a “known issue” with the Fitbit model I had been given (the “Flex”) and Macs with the newest operating system.  He assured me that Fitbit was working diligently to find a fix for that connectivity issue.  

When I asked why the other reps had given me completely different explanations for my problem, and why there was no disclosure of the problem to prospective Fitbit purchasers who owned Macs – not to mention no disclosure that Fitbits didn’t work with Blackberrys – he seemed to be deeply embarrassed by his company’s failings . . . perhaps even ashamed.  

I have to admit that I’m a little skeptical of the Fitbit’s accuracy.  It’s completely unclear to me how the thing works.  How the hell does it know how many steps I had taken?

I did some online research, and found that researchers had tested the Fitbit on subjects walking on a treadmill and concluded that the thing gave them a number that was pretty darn close to the number of times that their subjects actually stepped.

But what I wondered was whether performing activities other than walking while wearing my Fitbit would fool it into thinking that I was walking.  For example, what would happen if I wore it while I was riding my bike?    

I wore my Fitbit on my bike today after checking how many steps I had taken today prior to saddling up for my ride.  When I got back home and checked the results, I found out that my Fitbit thought I had taken a thousand or so steps while riding my bike.  (I may taken a hundred or so steps while walking to the garage to get my bike out and then walking from the garage to my computer at the end of my ride, but I certainly didn’t take a thousand steps.  No way, no how!)

I was also curious whether my Fitbit would register steps for me while I was sitting at the computer and typing this story.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to sync my Fitbit since returning from my bike ride hours ago.  So I don’t know if typing (or playing the piano, or cooking, or other activities involving hand and arm motions) will cause the Fitbit to give me credit for more steps than I’ve actually taken.

So let me unplug my dongle and plug it back in – that sounds kinda sexy, doesn’t it? — and then close my browser and reopen it and next do all the other useless things I regularly do in a futile attempt to get an updated reading from my Fitbit.  

Eventually the Fitbit will decide to sync and allow me to see my up-to-the-minute step count.  But when that will happen is anyone’s guess . . . and why it happens is a mystery beyond all human understanding.

On the bright side, I just received my "Penguin March" badge from Fitbit.  That’s because I just went over 70 lifetime miles walked while wearing my Fitbit, and 70 miles is the distance of the annual trip that emperor penguins make to their breeding grounds.  But unlike those emperor penguins, there was no one waiting to breed with me at the end of that 70-mile journey.

Here's my official Fitbit "Penguin March" badge:

* * * * *

The Illusion was a Long Island band that released three albums in 1969 and 1970 before breaking up.

During their brief existence, the Illusion opened for rock legends like the Who, the Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix.

“Did You See Her Eyes” was their only top-40 single.

Here’s Music Mike presenting the single version of “Did You See Her Eyes.”  

Click here to buy the album version of the song from Amazon:

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