Business Technology

iTrainedToday Tech

The technology behind iTrainedToday is a nice mix. In fact, the chosen technology has enabled it to finally come to life.

For a web application with persistence, you need basic moving parts: UI, backend persistence (ie. database), server-side middleware to translate the communication between the UI and the persistence. Straightforward for the most part except that things are really straightforward once you dive into the belly- except of course if you live in belly in which case everything’s straightforward but just takes time.

UI: html standards, css standards, javascript and all the various frameworks available and then there’s browser issues. iTrainedToday chose jQuery with jQueryUI as much as possible to lift all the UI interaction. Simile is the only other major JavaScript component but a crucial one. It’s what displays your recent data in one consolidated view.

Server: this is where things can get expensive. ASP.NET, Rails, Django, PHP and more all need to be hosted *somewhere*. And hosting costs money. In addition to the hosting costs there are bandwidth limitations/costs involved. A minefield (unless of course, you play in minefields all day long in which case it’s just a field). Hello, Google AppEngine. Love it or hate it; it’s still pretty sweet to get going with. And whenever someone says “it’s pretty sweet to get going with” they mean “it’s great for prototyping”. I don’t mean that. It’s serving athletes nicely (and simply) and ticking along… prime-time? I’ll let you know when it starts paying for itself in a big way.

Persistence: Google AppEngine handles that for me too. I don’t really need to grok the ins and outs of what that tech is in the tiniest detail. It’s interesting to know, but it’s more important for me to know that: a) it works and b) how to work with it. Storage techies get their hands dirty in the detail ‘cos well, that’s what they do. It’s not really what I do (most of the time).

And then beyond all the moving parts is the brain behind it. Can the brain handle mixing strongly typed dynamic scripting languages with the weakly typed variety and hurdle UI intricacies with usability issues while keeping an eye on security, optimizing the bottleneck (database calls) all the while focusing on the problem domain at hand? Mostly 🙂

Business Technology


What started out as a simple utility project soon turned into geek nectar. bodyFit for the BlackBerry is born to the world of software.

Now, body fat percentages and body mass indices along with waist-hip ratios and daily “am-i-getting-fat” questions in general tend to irritate me. Just get on with training hard and having fun doing what you do and the results will be there; don’t major in the minors. At least, that’s my attitude. That said, there still *is* space for trending/tracking your body shape and that’s where >_bodyFit comes in.

iTrainedToday has a vision to make tracking your training as simple and as unobtrusive as possible- sticking to the basics, without falling for the hype of fashionable health trends which really don’t last more than a 3-4 months. For example, back in the 70’s experts were advocating a balanced diet of carbs, protein and greens (70/20/10- or thereabouts) and guess what: it’s still the simplest, healthiest and least complicated way forward. But this is not a health blog…. 🙂

Body fat percentage equations is where this geek got curious and stayed motivated in producing >_bodyFit.

Besides the all-famous Jackson-Pollock equations, I soon discovered equations for the young, the old, the plump, the athletic, the sedentary and the normal (whatever that means). They all use different combinations of skinfold measurements, tape measurements, weight, height and age and are all varingly (in)accurate. The goal of >_bodyFit was to use as many of the equations as is possible and applicable based on the data input. Then, according to my reasoning, you have at least 3 different results which should correlate closely with one another in order to provide you with a more comfortable picture than just a single absolute number based on one formula that’s also being used on someone with a completely different profile to you.

And it’s not the actual number that matters so much as the trend in that same process, with the same tools using the same technique. By consistently recording your measurements using the same calipers, by the same person at the same time of day you get a more accurate reflection of progress. Weigh yourself in the morning after waking up and then just after lunch. Don’t be too shocked if you picked up a kilo or even 2. It doesn’t mean you need to go on a diet straightaway. Tomorrow morning, you’ll be right back down again. Point is, the body fluctuates- a lot. Again, don’t major on the minor changes- but keep your focus on the bigger picture *over time* in order to create an authentic strategy. >_bodyFit will help you do exactly that.