Follow Up Review – Nike+ and Apple

As I mentioned in my recent review of the VFF that I run in, I would be talking about some of the other things I have been experimenting with. This is the Nike+ gear and website and associated Apple products, almost all of which I happen to have anyway.

After I had switched back to the bush running I prefer, I started to get interested in tracking my performance, mostly distance and time. It can be easy to work really hard, feeling like I had done a workout and come back after only 20 minutes and 1 or 2 kilometres. One of my first steps was to spend some time working out some routes on Google Earth to figure out their distances. But with the multitude of trails available to me, it proved difficult to remember all the legs in my head as I was running. Not helpful.

I remembered from the menu on my iPod and from the Apple website that they had some connection with Nike. I did a bit of research and found that my iPod nano 6th gen (that I scored through a product recall of my 1st gen) included the ability to track my pace. I tried this for a little while and also experimented with the Nike+ website. I found the Nano pretty inaccurate and even calibration didn’t really help.

iPod Nano, 6th Gen

For $20 I could get a Shoe Sensor from Nike. Some Nike shoes have a little pocket in the sole to insert these sensors, which then link to various devices and give a much more accurate reading of when the shoe strikes the ground. As you know I don’t run in Nike, I run in VFF. A tip off youtube and I tried just sliding into my shoes on the top of my foot, just behind my toes. Fits snuggly, isn’t annoying and works fine. I found a significant improvement in the accuracy of the iPod with this, but it got me curious about the other options.

Over to the iPhone. Nike has an app that works with the GPS to track your run. I thought the app was a couple of dollars, but it turns out it was free. Not sure if that’s a permanent price though. I had two concerns… how do I carry my iPhone on my run (holding it in my hand just wouldn’t work) and how well would the GPS work in the gullies and bush I run in. The iPhone app also works with the Shoe Sensor, but it will only use one or the other at a time. The iPhone will also track your pace without either should it lose the GPS signal and you don’t have the sensor.

Nike+ Running on iPhone4S

I’ve since done about 7 runs with the GPS and only lost signal on a whole run once. THat’s pretty good considering some of the steep sided gullies I occasionally find myself in.

All the variations of gadgets I’ve tried have voice feedback, describing how far you’ve run, time taken, average pace (instant pace on iPod). These are at regular intervals, I have them set for every 500m. The summary is also read out to you at the end, and occasionally you get a cheer from some one famous encouraging you. You can also see all of this on the screen during the run.

The second part is the Nike+ website. The iPhone can sync over wifi or 3G, the iPod can sync through iTunes. You then get a record of your runs, along with achievements (fastest, furthest, most calories…) and the opportunity to comment or note terrain, weather and what shoe you ran in. If you’ve used a GPS tracker, then the route is mapped, colour coded to pace. Otherwise you get a graph of distance over time, slope (and colour) giving you pace.

It’s a pretty site and reasonably useful. You can compare yourself to some averages, and earn nikefuel (which doesn’t seem to be anything useful, just a tally).

Problems (It hasn’t all been smooth sailing)

-  The iPod was the least accurate, I think because my pace varies quite a bit over the rough terrain I mostly run in. In the worst case, it had a 5.5km run as 6.6km. It can be calibrated but this had better results on an even track or on a treadmill, but I don’t usually run those. Accuracy did improve with the sensor. Still it was pretty out, a few hundred metres over the 5.5km.

-  When the iPhone lost the GPS signal at the start of one run, the iPhone didn’t alert me apart from a popup which I didn’t notice as it was in it’s armband and I didn’t look at it again until I finished the 5km run. It still recorded my pace and gave me timings etc. But no GPS track.

-  I deleted a bunch of inaccurate runs from the website and now my results (fastest, furthest etc) are all messed up. This may fix itself as I surpass those ones.

-  I can’t find a way to match the routes I record on my runs, with the routes I construct on the My Routes page. Neither can I seem to match runs that I’ve recorded with each other, so have to search about to decide which was the fastest run for that route.

But other than that it’s been pretty good.

Future Plans

I still think running with the phone is a bit much and I’d like to go back to the Nano, but it’s widely inaccurate, so I had been considering the Nike+ Sportwatch which can use both the Sensor and its own inbuilt GPS at the same time. I’ve heard fairly mixed reports of the watch, but the local Nike shops can’t seem to keep them in stock so they’re either wildly popular amongst runners here, or there are a lot of “cool kids” buying them because they’re Nike watches….

Nike+ Sportwatch GPS

Last Minute Update – Just purchased the watch today. All set up and ready to run on Monday.

Canberra, the Ban Hammer and iPhone (again)

I did ride to Canberra. Had a great ride down, mostly on the old Hume Hwy and the Highland Way. Dropped in on an old friend for dinner. Came back almost the same way. I really enjoy these rides, and I especially enjoy them solo. I think I’m about ready to give up on “social rides” I just don’t get as much out of them and I often feel pushed to go beyond my capabilities. That leads to accidents.

I got banned from a discussion forum today. It’s a Mac forum that is very snobbish about iDevices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) such that they abused people (including the moderators) until the subject was banned. I mistakenly posted shortly after that and the forum was shutdown. It was reopened and I was warned not to post on the subject again. I still think it’s ridiculous, but was being very careful.

Last night I struck this weird problem where iCal (on my Mac) wouldn’t let me make any appointments on 07 Oct 12. Any other appointments were ok, but not that day. So I posted a request for any help on the work forum. In the ideas for a solution I mentioned iPhone.

And got a warning, but seeing I was on a warning I was struck by the Ban-Hammer. So now I can’t use that forum at all. Pretty petty, but I reread the rules and it does say “any mention” so I broke the rules, no matter how snobby I think they are. My main wish is to stage a coup and take over moderationship of the forum, but that’s tricky when he doesn’t want to give it up and I’m banned!

Now for a laugh. I have described my silly iPhone saga. Well while I was away we got a parcel, but missed it and it was returned to the post office. Because we didn’t collect it (didn’t find the note for a while) it was returned to sender. I found this out at the post office today. They also told me that it was sent by Vodafone.

So the iPhone that I tried to order and subsequently cancelled was delivered about 2 weeks afterwards. Vodafone are really hopeless! Happy still to be with 3 (yes who are still vodafone) with no contracts. So when I eventually find a better deal, I can jump ship.

Must Apologise

Ok I’ve been using my iPhone for a few days now and I really like it. But I must make my apologies to a whole bunch of app writers and many users. When I had only my iPad I always wondered why you wanted a Bank app or a Weather app, or a Facebook app etc. It was just as easy to browse on the iPad directly to the website of the bank, weather etc etc. My position was “Why do people need these apps that duplicate websites”

Ok now I understand. I tried the same trick on the iPhone little screen. Apps for some of these sites are far easier than trying to zoom and scroll around the webpage!

Big WoW patch coming today by the look of it. I don’t think I had pre downloaded it as I don’t launch from the WoW Launcher, but the iMac will have all day to do it. I just hope its not too big as I ate up a big portion of my monthly quota with the SWTOR beta.

Speaking of the SWTOR beta I’m going to have to seriously consider dual booting the iMac in order to get any Windows access time to play.

Riding to Canberra Thursday morning. Happily the forecast has improved from Rain both days to drizzle tomorrow morning and even sunny on Friday in Canberra (my return day).

Sad Face

Well to start on a happy note, SIM didn’t arrive in the mail, but I managed to get to a 3 store unexpectedly and get a SIM. After about 24hours I finally have my phone working as a phone, so that’s all good. Have had a little bit of a play with the new stuff (which is a lot compared to my old Nokia) and so far pretty happy. Not really finding Siri all that great though.

Now, bad news. SW:TOR is having a huge Beta Testing weekend, mostly so they can test server capacities etc. So pretty much everyone registered has an invite, either starting this morning or tomorrow. I scored an invite to the first group, spent 40% of my download quota installing it and was up early 5am to get into it.

But my PC has recently been suffering random shutdowns. I have been trying to get some info and some real symptoms without much luck. So every five mins or so while trying to play, shutdown. And it’s not a nice, quit programs and log out shutdown, its a hard, all of a sudden there’s nothing there total power down. I was already suspicious of the power supply and now I’m definitely going to start my investigations there.

But I can’t play.

Impressions from 10mins of loading screens etc… Great cutscences, in some ways the interface style reminds me of the old SW games, like Tie Fighter and Dark Trooper. So it seems a bit old fashioned. Graphics level seems about Mass Effect 1 level, at least on high with my old card. But I don’t so much mean the detail as the style of the graphics. Controls are very similar to WoW, but I don’t mind that. Familiar territory.

But if every quest is a conversation like that I am impressed at the amount of audio that must be in this game…. and sad as that will limit it’s playability for me when kiddies sleeping. Must investigate if there is a subtitles option.

So sad face at the moment.

UPDATE (1230) Bought a new power supply and opened the case up to get to work. Found the CPU fan was pretty loose, so that’s now my chief suspect. Reseated that and gave the whole case and all the fans a good clean out. Connected it all back up and I’ll keep an eye on it. New PS still unopened ready to return to the shop.

Of course, now little miss 4 is on the PC so I still can’t play!

My iPhone Saga and SWTOR

I preordered an iPhone4S about 3 days before they were released here. For me it is a big upgrade from a 4 year old Nokia running an old version of Symbian. Not really interested in Siri, more interested in the camera, the 64GB storage and not having to buy a whole bunch of apps again (iPad and another iPhone already in house here)

As of last week I was still waiting for it, so gave up and cancelled the pre order and went to the shop to get one. 15mins later walked out of the shop with one, now I just needed a SIM.

I approached Vodafone and tried to get a SIM (switch to them from 3) but my cancellation from yesterday was still pending. Next day same story. Monday same story. But that guy said he’d fixed it, but I am not able to get to a store until Thursday at the earliest and more like Saturday.

So I rang 3 – they’re going to mail me a new SIM. Should be here tomorrow :) I also changed plan so that I’m paying less per month with triple the included calls and about 5 times the data. No contract, no commitments. Sounds a little too good to be true.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Now, subject two. STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC. I have been interested in this for much of the year. I signed up for Beta testing and have even pre ordered a collectors edition from the US. A group of us from work have all organised a group of Sith and Republic guilds already.

Actually got an invite (I think everyone has) for this weekend. While its a massive 25G download, I am interested to see if I can work it on my old PC.

I’m also in two minds what to do about where to play it. Its Windoze only, no OSX version, so I can either play it on the PC (i7 850, 8GB RAM and 9500GT card) or bootcamp this mac and run it here (27” i5 12GB RAM and a better card at least 2 years newer than the 9500). That would mean getting a second Win7 64b copy of course.

I’ll download it and see what happens. Of course I might not like it… then I guess I’ll have a collector ed up for sale?

And what about WoW??