Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Runkeeper

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s a common myth that geeks and gadget lovers lead and incredibly unhealthy lifestyle, sure we spend many many hours ploughing through tech news, gadget blogs and of course demolishing enemy’s in our favourite shoot, em up.  However, a new group of people are starting a love affair with technology.  These people are fit, active and love the outdoors as much as watching there favourite podcast on there tablet or phone.

One of the most popular apps across both Android and iOS is Runkeeper.  This is a realtime GPS activity tracker for your phone.  It is a great way to log, manage and improve your fitness.  It helps you become more competitive by constantly pushing you to beat previous activities.  So thats the basics of the App and the genre, now on to the review.

The app is available free on Android, you can get it direct from the Android Market Place or Amazon’s App Store.  Once you have downloaded and installed the app setting it up is very easy and straight forward.  One word of warning though spend some time setting it up prior to completing your first activity as the default settings might not be what your after, particularly it tracks in Miles, most people I know all track in KM and once you start the activity you cant alter this until you save that activity.

The first screen prompts you to enter some details to create an account, this is not absolutely necessary as you can still track and record your activities however without am account you will not be able to take advantage of the more in depth analysis tools within the run keeper.com website, which is again free for basic use.

One you are logged in as I mentioned above make sure you have gone through and set your preferences, some of the options to be mindful of are metric or imperial units for distance and also very importantly the voice prompts.  Some of the guys I know who train with Runkeeper love the voice prompts, they claim they motivate them throughout there activity, I on the other hand find them pretty annoying.  However like all good apps you can suit them completely to you own requirements, you can have voice prompts spoken to you at intervals of either time or distance, for example every 5 minutes or every KM. I would have personally like to have seen prompts available at much more spaced out periods, particularly for distance, maybe every 5k would have been perfect.

You can also choose what to have shown on the main application screen whilst the activity is in progress, being able to choose between either pace or speed is a nice touch. When I first looked at the main running screen I thought it looked very sparse and unintuitive however after use you can see the reason for keeping it simple really works, again most people I know rely on the voice prompts more than the screen anyway.

The main screen consists of a timer, this shows elapsed time and is very clear and easy to read even whilst running.  There is also then a great graph along the middle which shows your pace for the previous minute.  This is then updated for every minute of the run, plus you can scroll back through them giving you an instant visualisation of your run, great for seeing where you speed up or slow down during your activity.

There is also a small map icon, which when pressed takes you to the google map layout.  This is then overlaid with markers every mile or KM depending on your preference.  This is a nice addition to the app although I find this better viewed from the Runkeeper.com website.  None the less a nice touch.

There is also a big social element to Runkeeper which is another source of motivation if you are into sharing your activities, either to show off or get some encouragement if you are finding things hard going.  You have the ability to share to either Facebook or Twitter, plus individually email people.  The last option is share with other Runkeeper friends or the Runkeeper Community as a whole.  A really great feature of sharing and syncing with Runkeeper is that if you change or lose your device you can sync your activities back to your phone.

Once you have set everything up and completed your activity you can save the activity, so you could maybe log the weather, kit used or any friends that may have tagged along.  This is great to serve as a reminder of the activity so you can once again track what works for you, maybe you run better in the heat.  This app will help you decipher the data.

Seeing as this is an App review I won’t go into detail on the Runkeeper website to much, suffice to say it offers a great source of both free and paid content to help you with your activities.

In summary, I was running version 2.9.0.2 on a Samsung Galaxy S2 using Cognition v1.5 Custom ROM.  Performance on the app was snappy and I experienced no lag at all. I started the activity with 100% battery and used 6% during a 42:10 minute 5 mile (8.24km) run with 5 minute voice prompts and regular screen viewing to check my progress , thus giving you more than enough time for the vast majority of people.  I am sure this would get me through a marathon without to much trouble.

Pro’s

Free App

Very accurate

Very easy to use

Sync to Runkeeper.com

Cons

More voice prompts would be good

Interesting post on news.com.au today about cycling from Victorian Chamber of Commerce.

You can find the link here

Extract below

  • Chamber of commerce calls for debate on cycling
  • Says cyclists should have licence, pay rego
  • Call for cyclists to learn the road rules

“Cycling is good for health, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for traffic congestion,” he said.

“But they are using public roads without any form of fee. It’s become a mainstream mode of commuter traffic and because of that, it’s an issue that demands some attention.”

Mr James said while motorists could easily be reported for traffic offences by their registration plates, cyclists were often able to escape without being identified.

But Bicycle Victoria CEO Harry Barber said most cyclists already had car licences and a call for registration was inappropriate.

“The idea of a plate on every bike when people have dozens of bikes and kids’ bikes – it would be a nightmare,” he said.

Mr Barber said most Melburnians who commuted to work by bike on roads were doing the right thing.

He said Bicycle Victoria supported better education for cyclists.

“They’ve got to learn the rules, they’ve got to learn the etiquette,” he said.

“We know that there are Grand Prix drivers and others who behave like idiots behind the wheel and we know that there are some people who behave irresponsibly on their bikes.”

Roads Minister Tim Pallas said he did not support the idea of registering bikes.

“There’s not one country in the world that has in place a licensing or registration system for bikes,” he said.

“We’re about encouraging people to look at cycling as a viable transport option.”

SPR Ride No2

Posted: October 17, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Today was the return to the SPR ride, I have done this group ride once before 2 weeks ago and was certainly keen to give it another go.  I found the first ride pretty easy.  However this time I had a feeling it was going to be a different story.  It was.

I got myself down to the meeting point for the 7AM kick off and things started off pretty tame up the Great Eastern, there was a strong headwind but nothing to bad.  I got caught up the front for around 9km at this point pushing forward, this started to take its toll on my legs pretty quickly.  Probably due to the heat.

The ride then as we headed towards Midland took a turn for the quicker and I found it hard to hand on if I’m honest, I persisted and with a little help from some traffic light managed to hold on until the end.  The pleasing thing for me was there were a few hills in the last 10k or so and these gave me a second wind.  Anyone who ever rides with me know I prefer riding up a hill to on the flat so I was happy as Larry.

It was god to meet Lorraine and also @madrapper came along for the ride as well, always good to have some good company on a ride when its starting to hurt.  In summary another great ride organsised by the SPR guys, well run and safe which is always a good thing.  The weather certainly played a part in the pain for me probably due to the fact that we went straight into a hot day with no real run up to get used to it.

Stats for the ride were 33km/h average which really doesn’t to the ride justice in relation to the effort put out.  The distance was just under 50k
Garmin Connect - Dashboard for craigdurk

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for spr ride

Today I was taking my usual route home via Stirling Highway just before the UWA.  There are often problems with buses pulling out on this section of road, the drivers simply pay no attention to the fact that you might get hurt as it seems there only concern is pulling out back into the traffic flow with no concern for other road users.

However today things took a turn for the worse, I literally had a bus miss me by cm’s.  The annoying thing is the driver knew I as there as I seen him hesitate and then pull out anyway.  After a gut wrenching manoeuvre  on my part I managed to aviod him.  I was noticeilby shook up and actually quite upset from the incident as I had just had a “professional” driver accept no repsonsibilty for what he had just done.

When I got my bearings back I gave chase to the driver catching him at a set of lights, he was obviously annoyed that I dared question him regaurding this matter promptyly closing his window and telling me to “fuck off” as the light changed he accelerated away.  I then caught him at a bus stop, were I was greeted with more profanity and once again the F bomb as he drove off.

Is this the sort of behaviour we expect from bus drivers, surely commuters and bus’s both are designed to ease congestion, surely were on the same team.  I snapped a picture of this imbecile and he had no issue in acting up for the camera, totally disgusting behaviour. I will be contacting Transperth tomorrow to get there side of the story. Until then here is the Rego and the buffoon himself

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UPDATE 19/10/09

I have received a call from “Jim” from the Transperth depot today, Jim is the person who has investigated my alledged incident.  I was told that there was nothing that he could do to help me with my complaint.  I further pushed the issue of the drivers swearing asking if they had reviewed the tapes.  Jim would not answer the question and considered the matter closed seeing as he had spoken to the driver.  Jim also claims that the driver is a keen cyclist.

I cannot accept his findings, although I wonder what difference making any more fuss will make.  I am seriously thinking of filing a police report just to make it more official.

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts

First 1000km Focus Cayo

Posted: October 8, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Today I have completed the first 1000km on my new Focus.  Total KM so far 1070.

The bike has performed brilliantly over the last few weeks, the adjustments have been made, the fit is perfect and my cycling is coming along in leaps and bounds.  I reviewed the bike in a previous post and was very happy from the start I just feel that I now I am in a better position to give a real opinion seeing as I have spent many hours in the saddle on various types of rides, hills, flat and commutes.

The bike still feels like it did the day I set it up, its smooth and solid feel makes for a really confident approach to my cycling.  The Campy components feel very different to Shimano which is the only thing I had used until this bike.  The shifters are much more thought out, greater area for gripping and much easier to brake when down in the drops giving it some beans.  I also like the mechanics of the unit, the single button to drop down a gear works very well, much more so than the cumbersome double mechanism of the Shimano.

I cant say that the addition of the extra gear has made much of a difference but its also nice to know its there shoudl I need it.  I also like the carbon look, just makes you want to ride faster so your in tune with the bike.

The frame is very stiff and light and doesn’t flinch when you apply the power up a long steep hill.  Downhill is a great confidence boost over my previous bike also.  I feel much more attached to the bike, I think the smoothness helps as I dont feel like the bike is twitching beneath me, a common thing apparently on the Giant TCR.

The Fulcrum wheels have remained totally true and run very well, there’s a great noise from the rear free hub and all in all a great wheel-set.  In saying this I think that the wheel set is quite a low choice in comparison to the rest of the components and this will be my first upgrade in the coming weeks, they will be changed for a set of higher end Campy wheels or some high end Mavics.

I will do a home service on the bike at 1500km consisting of a degrease and lube plus once again check all bolts for tension, safety first.

On reflection I was apprehensive about purchasing a bike mail order, but the whole experience has proving to be nothing short of amazing, great savings and no trouble at all.  I am still very happy with my new bike and am loving riding it.

SPR Group Ride

Posted: October 8, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

sleeveless-and-jacket-2009

Saturday 3rd October gave me my first real insight into group riding.  I had heard many good things about a local club called The South Perth Rouleurs.  I have to admit I was very apprehensive about completing a group ride, mainly because I had some experience of Perth cycling groups on the shared cycle ways of Perth and they are a nightmare.  Ripping up the shared tracks at 40kph plus on a weekend when the paths are alive with family and pets doing there weekend thing.  I had been told that the SPR ride was well organised and very well run, with the guys running it not tolorating any bad behavior or the breaking of road rules.

The ride itself kicks off from the Coode Street car park in South Perth and runs for around 50 or so KM.  I got there a bit early and was a bit shy as there were lots of fit looking people with expensive bikes and I have to be honest I felt a little bit over whelmed.  I waited pretty much on my own until  Fairy a cycling buddy of mine to turn up.  7 AM came and then there was a talk given by Peter who runs the ride.  This was very pleasing and once again showed the level of organisation and commitment from these guys.  We were all told in no uncertain terms that the running of red lights etc would not be tolerated, if there was anyone caught doing it they would be forced to sit out the next ride.

We then set off, there was lots of riders, I have to say that things got off to a slow start probably due to the size of the group as we headed down Canning Highway ( ride map here ), everyone well behaved and the pace started to pick up.  During the ride I have to say all the guys I spoke to were really nice and friendly and I really started to enjoy myself.  I was determined to have a good blast on this ride and decided to join the Fast group when the groups split and see how I faired.

When the groups split the pace did pick up and the average speed started to notch upwards, it was great flying down the roads at 45kph plus sharing the workload just like they do on TV.  I found the pace of the ride really comfortable and was eager to push further so I took my turns on the front of the group and rotated often to keep the flow of the group, great stuff.

The whole group stayed together pretty much until the end of Vic Park when a few guys got lucky with the lights, try as I might with another few guys we could not catch the few that got away.  We then pulled into the Cafe near the Bell Tower in Perth for the guys to get a coffee.  I needed to get off at this point so off I went saying my farewells to a few of the guys I rode with.

The experience of this ride has put away lots of fears that I had about my cycling ability and now I feel that I have really moved on in terms of speed and stamina in the saddle.  I also now realise that group riding is not a bad thing, its simply down to the organisation of the guys running the group.  Why for the life of me people arrnage grops of 15-20 cyclists that ride the shared paths of Perth I dont know.

I am really looking forward to joining in again this coming Saturday.

buying-online-tips

Today I decided to take a stand (although a lonely one no doubt) at bike stores here in Australia.  I have decided that I will NOT visit a bike store in this country for an entire year.

This means I will not get a service, repair or even buy so much as tube at the prices at which these guys charge.  More and more I hear about how people want better pricing for there goods, be it cycling equipment, running gear, books, bluray movies etc etc.  However what are we doing to make a stand.  Nothing. People will continue to charge us these crazy prices because they can.

So I encourage others to do the same, buy your stuff from online sources, such as chainreaction.co.uk , wiggle.co.uk , bookdepository.co.uk , jenson USA the list goes on and on.  I really want to support my local dealers and suppliers but I can no longer justify the markups that they crave.

I will keep you all updated on what I buy, where from and the savings over local prices, even taking into consideration postage and any taxation from Australian Customs.