Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

Cambridge to Les Gets 2013 route


Using the Adze programme I stitched together all the GPS trails for my ride to Les Gets.  Each day is given a different colour. There are a total of 25,471 points over the 761 miles (about 53 yards apart)

Clicking on the map will download a file that you can open in Google Earth taking  you through the route in minute detail.

Here is an example taken from Google Earth when I was in Gray, debating whether to stay or carry on.


Urine analysis with @uchek

Screenshot_30_05_2013_10_16Very interesting email I received on one of my favourite topics. If you measure what is going in it strikes me what is coming out is equally important.
After all doctors used to taste your urine 🙂 It’s interesting how the FDA are getting drawn into the debate. Basically if you interept the dipstick manually it’s OK once you use a camera & computer it becomes a medical device! see here.
———————–email from uchek——————

After our US and India app releases, it has been an interested time! 
– Lots of downloads of the uChek app on iPhone in USA and India
– ALL our friends on the Android platform and in non-US, non-India geographies writing to ask “When will we get it?
(btw Answer: SOON!
We’re be sending an update on release in different geographies, and of course, the much anticipated Android app)
Also interesting development: uChek is a FDA registered device and we have been in discussions with the regulator about the classification of the product. Much commentary about this on the web. Like here.
We seem to be somehow in the center of a wider debate about innovation and regulation.
Another thing we’ve noticed – nobody on facebook wants to talk about urine using their real name 🙂 
So we’ll use this email to talk about urinalysis, and what information the results of a urine test may contain …
A simple 10 parameter dipstick (less than 20 cents) can be a powerful diagnostic tool. This is precise the type of test strip we read using the uChek app, through the iPhone’s camera. 
Such a standard urine test strip may comprise up to 10 different chemical pads or reagents which react and hence change color when immersed in, and then removed from, a urine sample. The readings can be obtained between 60 and 120 seconds of dipping. Each parameter has to be read at a specific time after the start of the reaction, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. There are many manufacturers and many types of strips. Information about concentration measurements of parameters like glucose, urobilinogen, pH, ketone, occult blood, protein, bilirubin, nitrite, leukocyte, and specific gravity in urine may be obtained in this way.

The absence or relative concentration of different parameters may provide inputs for healthcare professionals for diagnosis, and management of upto 25 medical conditions.


Glucose is not normally present in the urine.
Once the level of glucose in the blood reaches a renal threshhold, the kidneys begin to excrete it into the urine in an attempt to decrease the blood concentration. So high blood concentrations lead to glucosuria, as does conditions that may reduce this renal threshold.

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Medications such as tetracycline, lithium, penicillin, cephalosporins
  • Pregnancy


Produced as a by-product during the degradation of RBC in the liver and normally excreted in the bile. Once in the intestine it is excreted in the faeces (as stercobilin) or by the kidneys (as urobilinogen).
Presence of bilirubin in the urine may therefore indicate:

  • liver disease
  • biliary tract infection
  • pancreatic causes of obstructive jaundice


Not normally found in the urine, ketones are produced during fat metabolism.
Presence of ketones may indicate:

  • diabetes
  • alcoholism
  • eclampsia
  • a state of starvation
  • pregnancy

Specific Gravity:

The specific gravity (SG) of urine signifies the concentration of dissolved solutes and reflects the effectiveness of the renal tubules to concentrate it ( when the body needs to conserve fluid). If there were no solutes present the urines SG would be 1.000, the same as pure water.
The SG of urine is around 1.010 but can vary greatly:

Decreased SG may be due to:

  • Excessive fluid intake (oral or IV fluids)
  • Renal failure
  • Acute golmerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, acute tubular necrosis
  • Diabetes insipidus

Increased SG may be due to:

  • Dehydration due to poor fluid intake, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Heart failure
  • Liver failure
  • Inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion

It also reflects a high solute concentration which may be from glucose (diabetes or IV glucose) or protein.


Classified as microscopic or macroscopic haematoria. Microscopic means that the blood is not visible with the naked eye.
Blood may be present in the urine following trauma, smoking, infection, renal calculi or strenuous exercise.

It may also be present with:

  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Damage to the glomerulas or tumours which erode the urinary tract.
  • Acute tubular necrosis.
  • Traumatic catheterization.
  • Damage caused by the passage of kidney stones.
  • Contamination from the vagina during menstruation

The presence of myoglobin (myoglobinuria) after muscle injury will also cause the reagent strip to indicate blood.


Measures the hydrogen ion concentration of the urine.
It is important that a fresh sample be used as urine becomes more alkaline over time as bacteria convert urea to ammonia (which is very alkaline).
Urine is normally acidic but its normal pH ranges from 4.5 to 8.

Low pH (acidic):

  • Foods such as acidic fruits (cranberries) can lower the pH, as can high a high protein diet.
  • As urine generally reflects the blood pH, metabolic or respiratory acidosis can make it more acidic.
  • Other causes of acidic urine include diabetes, diarrhoea and starvation.

High pH (alkaline):

  • Low carb or vegetarian diet
  • May be associated with renal calculi.
  • Respiratory or metabolic alkalosis
  • Urinary tract infection


This is measuring the amount of albumin in the urine. Normally there should be no detectable quantities.
Elevated protein levels are known as proteinuria. Albumin is one of the smaller protiens, and if the kidneys begin to dysfuncion it may show an early sign of kidney disease.

Other conditions which may lead to protein in the urine include:

  • Injury to the urinary tract, bladder or urethra
  • Inflammation, malignancies.
  • Multiple myeloma


Normally present in the urine in small quantity. Less than 1% of urobilinogen is passed by the kidneys the remainder is excreted in the faeces or transported back to the liver and converted into bile.

Raised levels may be due to:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Hepatic necrosis
  • Haemolytic and pernicious anaemia
  • Malaria


Nitrites are formed by the breakdown of urinary nitrates. This us usually caused by Gram-negative and some Gram-positive bacteria.
So the presence of nitrites suggests bacterial infection such as E.coli, Staphylococcus and Klebsiella.
Commonly found during a urinary tract infection.


Detects white cells in the urine (pyuria) which is associated with urinary tract infection.

Source: ImpactedNurse

Urinalysis may be useful in investigations and management of the following conditions. 

1. Urinary tract infections
2. Cirrhosis of the liver
3. Hepatitis 
4. Hemolytic anemia
5. Malaria
6. Pre-eclampsia
7.Metabolic acidosis and alkalosis
8. Respiratory acidosis and alkalosis
9. Diabetse mellitus
10. Diarrhoea
11. Starvation
12. Renal calculi
13. Diabetes ketoacidosis
14. Biliary tract infections
15. Obstructive jaundice
16. Pregnancy
17. Alcoholism
18. Dehydration
19. Heart failure
20. Diabetes Insipidus
21. Nephropathy – Diabetic and Hypertensive
22. Multiple Myeloma
23. Menstruation
24. Vomitting 
25. Cancers of the urinary tract, kidney, bladder

Addional information on this topic may be obtained from the sources below.

—————end email uchek——————–

Quantified Geoff

Today I’m off to Amsterdam for the weekend to spend time & learn more about the Quantified Self. Something I have been very interested in since discovering John Walkers original Hackers diet & Eatwatch programme on my old Treo600. This, coupled with the fact I had an eye problem which necessitated many visits to Addenbrookes  Hospital to ascertain if it was genetic or glaucoma, made me realize how important good longitudinal studies are.

The apps and things I currently measure are:

Screenshot_09_05_2013_19_53-3Daily Body Weight

Using Fatwatch (iPhone rough equivalent of Eatwatch) and Withings scales. I now have 1950 readings from the past 8 years from the chart you can see a highly skewed distribution of weights.  One side affect of this is that I now know I have spent 1109 nights away from home in the past 8 and a bit years 🙂 Since I only weigh myself at home!


I tried Zeo & SleepCycle but didn’t get on with them. I now use the Fitbit and Snorelab. Fitbit has an API which enables me to draw nice charts from all the data it collects. The shows shows a normal distribution centred around  440 and 460 mins (about 7 1/2 hours) of sleep in the past 416 days.

IMG_4227Snorelab has no API 🙁 so hard to do nice graphs over many weeks, although I might enter all the data into a spreadsheet by hand. Obviously you can do screen shots like the example shown. All it has proved is that I snore a lot! mainly when I first go to sleep.


Screenshot_10_05_2013_08_51I am a keen walker as you can tell by reading this, and looking at my step counts on the chart.

I did a post on the different ways I measure steps etc here.


Other things I have measured are:

  • DNA through 23&me,
  • Moves,
  • Daily Mugshot,
  • Blood pressure using Withings,
  • Quicken for home finance.

and probably a few more after the weekend!



Three Peaks & Three Gadgets

Moves storylineLast saturday Sally and I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk. A great walk it was too, especially tagging along behind two members of the LDWA who specialise in 100mile non stop walks. So we moved had a brisker pace and had fewer shorter stops than we are accustomed to with The Cambridge Rambling Club 🙂 The weather was very low cloud with 12″ or so of freshish snow on all three peaks.

The gadgets I was carrying where an iPhone5 with the Moves app running & the route in the Viewranger app (although not tracking). I also had the route stored in my Garmin etrex 20 which was also storing our track as we walked it. Finally I was wearing my trusty Fitbit Ultra.

I’m pleased to say they all worked flawlessly and all their batteries stayed live for the 11 or so hours we were out. I was also carrying my Canon 550D with a 18-135mm lens.


This is a very nifty app that automatically works out if you are walking, cycling or just sat in a vehicle! It works by using the internal GPS (battery only lasts a few hours) and also the various internal motion sensors. At the end of the day it produces a summary and storyline (see left image). For this walk (and to and froing  before & after) it gave a result of 58,499 steps, 25.7 miles in 10hours 29mins. You can also see the times we summited and the little stops we had.

I now use this app everyday the biggest disadvantage (apart from battery life – which to me is OKish)is that you cannot easily create a database of activity.

I kept the iPhone in an Aquapac case to stop water damage & also took a TeckNeti EP387 7000mAh external battery pack with cable. (Total weight 368gm)





Fitbit data March 16th

As anyone knows both Sally and I are obsessed with this amazing device.

This gave a reading of 60,600 steps, 28.6 miles. 523 floors climbed (5230 feet in normal speak) and 5340 calories burned over about 12.5 hours .  So it agrees very closely to Moves.






Using Ascent OSX app we get the profile and speed as:Screenshot_22_03_2013_14_47


This worked out we had walked 24.8 miles in a moving time of 8hr 45min (average speed 2.8mph) with an ascent of 5,579 feet. So the other devices had a pretty good correlation. So the Fitbit really does work 🙂

All my photos of the days walk can be found here.

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