Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the 7-minute no-look workout page

People at my company have been doing the The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. There are a ton of apps and pages and videos for this, but we were using http://www.7-min.com/. It's a decent site, but I realized there were some UX improvements that could be made. I noticed that I, and others using the side, would often:
  • announce the upcoming exercise (reading it from the page)
  • glance at the screen (some times difficult when on the floor!) near the end, and then count down the final "3...2...1" to alert peers
  • wonder what the "halfway point" was for exercises that didn't have a "switch sides" prompt midway through.
So I took these ideas, remade the illustrations, and ended up with kirk's no-look 7-minute workout page. (I also parlayed it into an open-source github project.)

The code is a bit inefficient, relying on setting up a big hoard of javascript timers, one for each page event. I'm toying with redoing it so it uses a single interval timer, but so far the current version seems to function ok. 

For sounds I used my own lowLag.js library. To make the voices, I used OSX's "say" command, using the India English voice "Veena" (some of the voices sound really off), dumping the result to an aiff file, and then using LAME to encode as MP3. (Happy to see firefox seems to be supporting MP3s now.)

The commands for that were:
say -v "Veena" "good job" -o goodjob.aiff
lame goodjob.aiff --preset medium goodjob.mp3

I didn't have permission to reproduce the NY Times illustrations, so I traced over and made some of my own. (I used ArtStudio on the iPad to trace over an existing set on a different layer.)

The only other clever bit was the old "python webserver" trick. 

It was nice iterating on this with "real users", i.e. my coworkers and myself. At first the "tick" was a bassdrum sound, but then didn't translate well over video chat. (Similarly, I may have to increase the contrast of the progress bar at the bottom.)

Anyway, the 7 Minute Workout is kind of fun. I'm skeptical about it, in some ways, and suspect we don't push ourselves enough while doing it, but still, it's better than nothing, and feels good to get through!

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