Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Fabulous Fitbit Flex: Issues with iMac Syncing and Workarounds

It was January and I'd been eying the Fitbit for some time. My good friend and well-known walking writer, Wendy Bumgardner, had a habit of wearing several pedometers and measuring devices at once. And I, well... I just wore my ceramic wristwatch. I traveled and ate out. I really needed to walk more. I was convinced that measuring my steps would help me at home and on the road.

So in January I purchased the simple Fitbit Flex and hurried home to download the software to my new iMac desktop. I didn't have a smart phone so wouldn't be syncing on the run. With the software downloaded and my information entered I was ready to go. I hooked up the Fitbit to my computer to charge the battery just as the instructions told me to do.

I was thrilled to see that there was an opportunity to connect, also, with some of my friends on Facebook so that we could see each others' progress (or lack thereof). So I hooked up with three of them.

I walked the dog, I walked myself at the gym and I mowed the lawn. My Fitbit recorded it all and when I neared my computer, the distance magically appeared on my Fitbit dashboard. It worked!

I even decided to purchase a scale that would sync with my Fitbit dashboard and take a stab at losing weight. It didn't sync and I returned it. So much for a weight loss incentive.

I did find that I had quite an exercise incentive going. My friends were active daily and their steps were right there on my dashboard. My friend, Wendy, was always ahead. After all, she was a walking expert and she set her goals high. I kept mine at an achievable 10,000 steps per day. But my other friend and neighbor wavered from time to time so I found her a worthy opponent in the step race. Sometimes I was ahead of her and sometimes she passed me. This went on despite my growing technical difficulties with the device.

However, as the time passed, I found that my Fitbit was not syncing when I neared the computer. In fact, I had to reset it to sync it. This got worse and worse as the weeks went on. I took the Fitbit out of the bracelet so many times that it broke! I really wanted to keep up with my friends and so put up with this technological stressor.

Frustrated, I called the Fitbit Tech Support. They were very receptive and thought for sure they could help me. They walked me through all the steps needed to deal with the software and the Fitbit. I did everything they suggested (even checked my iPad to see if I could use that instead) and things still didn't work consistently. I think they spent about 45 minutes on the phone with me. At the end of the consultation it was suggested that I had some sort of wireless interference going on. Since I had a wireless mouse it was suggested I purchase a USB cord mouse to use instead. Hmmm. this was costing me well above the $99 I paid for the Fitbit.

I gave up using the Fitbit for a couple of days and sent for a USB mouse. It arrived and I switched out my "meeses." Things worked a little better. Notice I said "a little." I still wasn't pleased.

Things came to a head after a wonderful three day trip to the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington. I walked the beach, hiked the Discovery Trail and walked along the waterfront in Ilwaco. The Fitbit buzzed away, signaling that I had achieved (and often exceeded) my goal each day.  I was excited to return home and see how my achievement looked on my Fitbit dashboard! Wouldn't my friends be impressed!

I got home and did my usual workarounds (several times) to sync my Fitbit. The outcome? All the data was lost FOR THE PAST THREE DAYS! I was "fit" to be tied. I took off the Fitbit and left it, the dongle, and the recharging USB in the box. Meanwhile my friends racked up more and more steps. I lost interest in doing any more walking that normal. Perhaps a trip to the dog park, a walk around the block or a walking tour... certainly less than 10,000 steps per day.

I realized that not having my Fitbit was causing me to walk less. I needed to walk MORE for my health. On a rainy day, I took the Fitbit out of the box once again and wrote a long note to Fitbit Support. Within 24 hours they wrote back an equally long note. Although much of the advice was what I had done before (to no avail), there were a few tidbits of new information.

I read through it and decided to try deleting the old Fitbit software and reinstalling the latest version of the software. I walked a bit and then tried syncing the Fitbit. I found out that if I put my wrist almost next to the dongle in back of my computer it would sync... but only if I went to the Fitbit software and manually synced it. So, what once was a frustrating ineffective workaround has become a three step workaround:

1. Select the Fitbit Icon and access the software
2. Press manually sync
3. Put my wrist with the Fitbit close to the dongle.

That works!

I am now back on the Fitbit walking trail. I am now walking more! And, I have my friends to give me some incentive to keep walking.

It took a combination of advice from the Fitbit Tech Support and my own inventiveness to make things work. If you have an iMac and have difficulty syncing, you might keep these things in mind and, by all means, contact Fitbit Technical Support.

Purchase a Fitbit from Amazon