Something about work and something about gear

I don't often blog about my day job, mainly because I suspect its rather boring.  However, every so often I'm involved in something I think may be more interesting, or I'm particularly product of.

One of those things was launched this week, the Civil Service's Talent Action Plan.  As some of you know I'm the Vice-Chair of the Civil Service Disability Network and Chair HSE's own network (known as Equal). These roles are ones that I fit in with the day job, which as some of you are probably thinking "What does he do?" is being a Senior Scientific Officer in the Corporate Science Unit of HSE, leading on Knowledge Management and Futures/Horizon Scanning and liaison with the Government Office for Science (told you it was less than riveting).

Behind the scenes over the last six months the CSDN, and our sister networks on other protected characteristics, have been working with Cabinet Office to try and turn a loose concept into something that can work for all civil servants. 

Which is the point some wag would normally point out "what about the white, male able-bodied?" and someone else would say "I just want to do my job, what's this got to do with me?"

To which my answer is a simple one, the Talent Action Plan does contain elements to support the progression and development of under-represented groups though it should be emphasised that there's no golden tickets for people to progress, anyone on a scheme will still have to pass panels etc.

However, the majority of the Talent Action Plan is about making the Civil Service a better and fairer place to work, for everyone.  It's about championing what makes us so good at what we do, the difference perspectives and ways of working that we bring to help us do what we're meant to do.

If anyone thinks I've swallowed a happy pill, don't worry the cynical Rottweiler hasn't been patted on the head, given a Scooby snack and is now curled up in his den.... The Civil Service have said a lot of this before, but they've not given the networks as much input into the developments nor have they given the permission to challenge so explicitly.  As they put it we have to :

The official lunch stuff is here:

So, that's the next couple of years taken care of then....

On to gear...

I have a new Fitbit!!  After two years with my beloved Fitbit One the battery was beginning to drain very quickly so it was time for a refresh. 

The Fitbit range has expanded a lot since I first got my One, and I spent a fair amount of time agonising over the pros and cons of each device, reading reviews and laughing as they obviously didn't understand Fitbit's eco-system or the brain of a runner.

So, I went all in and got the top of the range Surge, the self styled "SuperWatch".  The short version of the features lists is: pedometer, altimeter, constant HR monitoring, and GPS functions.

The pedometer and altimeter give you the classic Fitbit steps taken and floors climbed figures.  The HR is based on light beaming into your skin from the back of the watch so isn't ECG accurate (though to be honest with the amount of scar tissue I have the Garmin wasn't brilliant) but is close (based on a couple of carotid artery measurements at various levels of activity).  I feel duty bound to say I didn't get the HR thingy because of the dickey ticker, but because I'm a data nerd.  The GPS unit is fairly good, I've had faster and slower lock on to the satellites by my other GPS's and the accuracy is as good as many others.

And it all works together, it seamlessly has taken over my old Fitbit account, it links into Boints (free money for exercising - including in the form of vouchers for food!), the runs appear in my Fitbit dashboard and give quite a lot of information.

The "smart" features also work - I can link it to my phone when I'm too lazy to control music playing (I don't run with headphones on, so this is mainly for when I'm in the gym on my wireless headset).  The call notification etc I really don't see the point of, if I'm running I'll pick the call up later.

Are there bits I don't like... Not many, but two worth mentioning - first up, battery life.  GPS is a power hog, and Fitbit reckons you'll get five hours out of the watch in GPS mode.  My marathon PB is just over five and a half hours.  Will it stretch?  I don't know, but I do know I won't risk it, so will pack the Garmin for long runs.   Data downloads, will someone (Fitbit or Garmin) get it sorted so one will upload to the others platform? They even save to the same format, they just don't talk to each other!

Are there extra bits - the silent alarms, the automatic detection of sleep, the food diary built into the app are all being used and used well.

Overall, its £200 that after a month I'm very happy with spending, and Fitbit have themselves a huge fan.

Other than that I seem to be running again,

Trot in London

From Lab to Station

The important thing about these runs is that they were on days when I was away from home, and the easiest thing would have been not to run... The mojo is back, the fitness is coming back (slowly) and the run into the Liverpool Rock and Roll half and all the fun of that has begun:-)

So, time to go... The rain is hammering down, I've a new camera to play with, and the fun of a night run around the local National Trust Tudor House - Speke Hall :-)





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