Short update regarding the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 and Gadgetbridge

Okay, second night with my fitness tracker, and Gadgetbridge shows light sleep for almost 8 hours (and also a few counted steps in the flat). After reading a bit more about the software, I’ve changed my weather provider on the phone to “Tiny Weather Forecast Germany” which comes from our official DWD (Deutscher Wetterdienst) site who are also reporting to Tagesschau and other official media. That one is nicely integrated with Gadgetbridge, so that my fitness tracker now shows the temperatures as reported by DWD, instead of some unknown Chinese service.

I also changed my phone’s navigation system from Organic Maps to OsmAnd~ which is supported by Gadgetbridge (even Google Maps is supported, but any Google services is what I’m trying to avoid with all this). I have not yet tried any “Activities” or “Workouts” which would make use of map tracking, but I will do that soon (next on my list in fact).

Anyway, it’s nice to know that communications only occur between my own devices now, and that *nothing* goes to some unknown “cloud services” (aka other peoples’ computers). Except of course the fact that my phone gets the weather from DWD, so it also has to tell them where I am to keep that correct. That’s unavoidable, but I can live with that…

And like always, thanks for reading.

Update to this update 😉

Just saw that the battery status was different on the device and in the software, so I submitted a bug report against Gadgetbridge. See here.

And another update to this update (of the update) 😉

Yup; tracking works. First I didn’t exactly know how to *get it working*, so I tried with the Mi Fitness app first, but later found out how to view the “workout” in OsmAnd~. Here is how that looks:

Mi Fitness left – Gadgetbridge displayed in OsmAnd~ right

In the Mi Fitness screenshot, I had to take out my “customer number” (or whatever they call your digit-only user number at Xiaomi), so I airbrushed that out with The Gimp. Gadgetbridge and OsmAnd~ show nothing personal, except of course the area where we live. Took the small inner round through our “Wohnpark” in the Mi Fitness image, the bigger around the block walk in Gadgetbridge/OsmAnd~.

You can also export a .gpx file from Gadgetbridge, which is what I did to import it into Gnome Maps on my desktop – looks like this (with a shorter walk):

An exported .gpx route, here shown in Gnome Maps

Not bad for “experimental”, is it? Again, thanks for reading and for viewing.

First look: Xiaomi Smart Band 8

Yesterday I bought a fitness tracker. My wife and daughter both have one since long, and I started counting my steps when I first got an iPhone from the company, and later the used Google Pixel 4a from my wife. And while counting steps with a phone is good, and all that most people would probably need, I still also wanted those steps when I do *not* carry my phone, plus having a look at some other statistics like sleep tracking and so on.

Both Mitchie and Zuleikha (or Aki, which she prefers) are using FitBit devices. Mitchie lost her Charge 4 last year and got the Charge 5 soon afterwards, Aki has her Inspire 2 since about that time (or a bit earlier). But I didn’t want to go the Google route, and here’s why. Mike Kuketz, a German security consultant once mentioned an open source tracker software which doesn’t send every measurement to the big clouds for their analysis, so I was interested in that program called “Gadgetbridge” since a while. The best supported devices are those from Huami (aka Amazfit) and Xiaomi which use Huami’s “Zepp” app, but since the last update to Gadgetbridge, even some newer devices which use different protocols are supported – see here.

So my initial plan was to get a Xiaomi Smart Band 7 or an Amazfit Band 7, both of which originally use that Zepp app, and both being able to be used with Gadgetbridge instead. However, at our local electronics chain store, only the newer Xiaomi Smart Band 8 was offered, so I took that one instead. And to make matters short (or TL;DR in “modern” speech): no, I haven’t got it running with Gadgetbridge yet (support *is* still experimental), but I’m still glad I got this one, even tho it feels a bit strange to have a secure system like GrapheneOS, and then to install Xiaomi’s Mi Fitness software onto it – but in the long run, this will most probably change.

So what is it like? Well it counts my steps (and less than the free and open source “Paseo” software on the phone before, but it’s said to be pretty accurate), it also tracks my sleep, counts my heart beats, blood oxygen, and all that stuff – what most of these devices do. The Xiaomi software is pretty colourful, as are the hundreds of watch faces you can install with a single click. Here are some screenshots of the software running on my phone:

In case you want a comparison of some of these devices, here is a German one from FitForFun, and the guys from Heise’s Techstage had an almost similar result. But of course they don’t even think about using said devices with free and open source software, so choose wisely. Of the older generation (compatible with Zepp apps and such with Gadgetbridge, except the Huawei device), there’s also a nice video, also in German, here.

I will report more later, since I have the device more or less since a single day only, and this is my first one (although I can compare it to those FitBits, and to be honest, Aki was a bit jealous about that Goose watchface you could choose for mine)… 😉

Like always, thanks for reading.

Update, later on the same day:

Got Gadgetbridge working by now on the Pixel 6a (had tried it on the 3a before). And I’m still exploring it of course, but here’s a first screenshot from the phone:

Gadgetbridge working with the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 on the Google Pixel 6a running GrapheneOS

So for the moment I’ll have deactivated Xiaomi’s app and this one active instead. Switched the battery usage from ‘Unrestricted’ to ‘Optimised’, because this doesn’t have to be active when I don’t want it to. So let’s see how this develops. But I’m glad that I’ve been successful.

And again, thanks for reading.

To whom it might concern: GrapheneOS added Android Auto

Happy new year again.

Forgot to tell you that with two updates from December 30th and 31st, GrapheneOS now added Android Auto if you can make use of it (we can’t; our car is a year or so too old for that). An article on 9to5Google reminded me of it, and here are the release notes from GOS.

And unlike stated in 9to5Google, my Pixel 6a which is on the GrapheneOS “stable channel” got it already. But since our car can’t do it, and I haven’t switched on any (sandboxed) Google services, it’s of no big deal for us. But if your car can make use of it, enjoy.

Thanks to Daniel Micay and his team over at GOS. And like always, thanks for reading.

Now running…

  • GrapheneOS on the Google Pixel 6a mobile phone
  • DivestOS Mobile on the Google Pixel 3a mobile phone
  • Debian on my self-built desktop computer (for “work”)
  • Arch Linux on my self-built desktop computer (for “fun”, or to see the newest stuff)

Looks like this:

GrapheneOS
DivestOS Mobile
Debian
Arch Linux

Oh, and of course I’m also running the latest jams on the Wikiloops radio. You can participate in these if you like, why not give it a try?

Like always, thanks for viewing, reading, listening, and all that 🙂 Happy holidays 🙂

Update, from Wed Dec 20th, 2023:

According to the German security expert Mike Kuketz, GrapheneOS is the gold standard of all Android operating systems. His article is in German, only the parts where he cites Daniel Micay, founder and lead developer of GrapheneOS are in English.

Privacy Guides has the same opinion and recommendation. See also at Eylenburg’s comparison. And at AndroidAuthority. And maybe the best one at PrivSec.

Be aware tho that in case you reject all Google services and apps, you’ll also lose some of their “AI” and capabilities. Your choice. In that case, user profiles might help – one owner profile without, and a user profile with Google services (still sandboxed in GrapheneOS). And thanks again for reading.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Recently a friend an I were talking about Haruki Murakami‘s books, and when we asked each other’s favourites, my friend’s answer was “Killing Commendatore”, while my first reaction and answer to this was “1Q84”.

And while both are brilliant, by re-reading first “Kafka On The Shore”, and after that, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, my mind has changed (at least for now; I began re-reading “Killing Commendatore” but after a few pages interrupted that to read the ones mentioned above first).

Like probably every author, Murakami has recurring themes, topics, and sometimes even characters – the “hollow man” being a figure in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, and “hollow men” being a concept in “Kafka On the Shore”, or Ushikawa being both present in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, but having a much more prominent role in the third book of “1Q84”.

I think now that “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” was probably the best I’ve read so far of Murakami’s, it’s also a very sad one at times, and the described cruelty (and the nonsense of war) is frightening. The most frightening figure of all is “Boris the manskinner”, a Russian who was elsewhere compared to Vladimir Putin, and let me cite from the English translation why I had the same thoughts:

My own country is hopeless. It was almost better under the czars. At least the czar didn’t have to strain his empty head over a lot of theory. Lenin took whatever he could understand of Marx’s theory and used it to his own advantage, and Stalin took whatever he could understand of Lenin’s theory (which wasn’t much) and used it to his own advantage. The narrower a man’s intellectual grasp, the more power he is able to grab in this country.

Brilliant, isn’t it? And to have “Boris the manskinner” aka Vlad being the ones who took whatever they could understand of Stalin (less than Lenin, much less than Marx), but both equally brutal, yes that seemed to fit. If you can stand it, read it.

More about Haruki Murakami here. And as always, thanks for reading.

3 months of Bella today…

As of today, our little Bella is with us since three months exactly. And each day, she tells me/us: “Let me out, let me out!”:

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Let me out let me out, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

And sometimes in November, when the weather was too bad, she’d gotten the “November Blues”:

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November Blues, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

In the evenings, just as right now as well, she’s waiting for Mitchie and Zuleikha to come home from work, like this:

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White cat on white sheet, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

There are times tho when we can’t let her out – the neighbours’ cats don’t like her that much, and now Bella got really protective about her home as well:

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Bella says “no”, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

In that case, I try to play with her – although she’s really watching the veranda door then:

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Bella, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

At the moment, like I wrote above, she’s sleeping. But a while ago we both sat on the sofa – I wanted to read a bit, and she came behind me. So here’s a selfie from my phone:

Selfie with human, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

It’s wonderful to have her around… <3

And like always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.