Never trust the weather forecast, very rarely is it correct. Today, day number 5 or 6 in the rain-a-thon that we Minnesotans have experienced turned up fairly dry. The sun even managed to peak out from behind the clouds a few times today. Thus, at 47 degrees and mostly cloudy, today was the best day for running in the past several days. Seizing the opportunity to try out the birthday gift from my parents, I went for a quick 20 minute run.

It turns out, if I had done an out-and-back of my route, I would have covered 3 miles. I did not realize that the start lap button must be pressed before the Forerunner will record the run, I ran over a mile before figuring that out. Hence, the GPS recorded 1.72 miles but the actual route was more on the lines of 2.72 miles according to (a very cool site by the way).

The GPS is not sensitive to running under power lines, which is good, but I can not say the same for the heart rate monitor. From the get-go it said I was at 100BPM or higher (not even close to resting heart rate). Most of the time it though I had a heart rate near 190BPM, and for a good stretch of time it was at 204BPM. Doing quick math, 204BPM is near to what my max heart rate should be. This high of a heart rate is not possible to sustain for extended periods of time with out heart failure. According to this, I should have collapsed during my run. After the run I did a little pulse vs. heart rate monitor and found it off by nearly 40BPM. For one moment I was able to get it measure an accurate heart rate of 74BPM at rest, it then spontaneously jumped to double that. The heart rate monitor will need to be figured out eventually, but for now every thing else works.

When just looking at the Forerunner, it looks a bit awkward due to the L shape of the body that wraps partially around the arm. When running that oddity makes sense, as the GPS antenna is located in this part and the way human arms move when running this part of the GPS is always facing the sky. The weight of the Forerunner, which is not that high to begin with, is transparent while running. Design wise, Garmin did their homework with this GPS and created a very nice product.

The feature lacking Garmin Training Center (GTC), which allows the transferring of data to and from the GPS, is basic but useful. GTC creates nice graphs and has data/lap view and statistics. Its mapping is practically useless as at anything under 1 mile = 1 inch scale is considered over zoom and has literally no local roads, what it does do though is plot your course on the map accurately. Hands down, the best feature of GTC is the import/export data options. Data output is in a nice XML formatted document, which will make life easy for me when writing WP Trainer. With this one run and the data from it I will be able to begin writing WP Trainer as no “hacking” of the export files will be necessary, and my experience with RSS will really help here as both are XML documents.

The Good:

  • Fits well
  • GTC software exports a XML formatted document
  • GPS locks in quickly after initial region discovery, even locks in when indoors in some cases
  • Accurate even in non-ideal conditions
  • Software and firmware updates are easy
  • Not-evil software, easy to disable windows tray icon

The Bad:

  • Had to install a firmware update for the new day light savings time
  • Heart rate monitor is inaccurate

The Ugly:

  • GTC software maps leave much to be desired, Garmin could learn a lot from Google Earth

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Introducing WP Trainer

Today, the birthday present from my parents arrived, a Garmin Forerunner 305. Someone on the track team, during my senior year, had one of the old 101s that weighed three times as much and are twice as big. But, despite its size it worked well. In fact, it worked well enough for the cross country coaches to purchase two 201s for the use of the team for keeping track of distances ran, instead of those running wheels. That’s where the idea to get it for me came from.

The 305 includes a heart rate monitor and records it along with time and other various stats during a workout. I have yet to try it out but tomorrow I’ll take it for a test run. Tonight, I charged it and installed the Garmin software, which defiantly feels lacking. What is good about it though is data exporting, and with that a WordPress plug-in will be made for keeping track of runs. Naturally, this won’t be available for some time, but it will be a free and powerful alternative to MotionBased.

WP Trainer will first work with the Forerunner series training GPS, but eventually support for the iPod + Nike setup, which is a really neat setup and defiantly less expensive as well. iPod + Nike has one drawback however, as it is not a GPS system, route tracking will have to be manually done by the user. With the Forerunner units, uploading the exported data should allow an auto generation of a path overlay on top of Google maps. Since I do not own a iPod or the Nike + iPod Sport Kit this setup will not be the emphasis of this plug-in (initially that is, I’m sure I’ll have access to the needed equipment when the time comes). More details will be revealed as I begin to implement things. This blog will be the test bed for this plug-in so if things get flaky that probably is the plug-in.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

We’re Back (Again)

After a brief absence due a hardware failure, is back. A slue of new hardware accompanies the return. From this time forward service outages should be rare (unless someone gets Dugg).

JD installed a new 8 core Woodcrest server with 8GiB ram for the new Apache/PHP/file server, and the SQL server was replaced as well. Since some nasty traffic was making it to the old Apache server, a dedicated hardware firewall was installed a good thing all around as the bad traffic was at times taking up to half of the network activity. Look forward to some more interesting updates here as some projects wrap up and the semester winds down.

One final thing, Happy Birthday James (jmweirick)! (This may be off by a day or so)

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]


Yep, forget it, use GNU Octave instead. For calculus 3, rather linear algebra and differential equations, there is a lab which requires the use of MATLAB to do things that can get ugly. One particular use is for Gaussian elimination for finding values of several variables that solve a set of equations.

Occasionally, a write up is required for certain parts of the problems completed in lab. Checking work previously done in lab when doing the write-up is always reassuring. Going back to the computer lab is not convenient, and the 200USD that it costs for a student license of MATLAB can go to better use. That’s where GNU Octave comes in; it’s GNU’s MATLAB replacement that accepts nearly all of MATLAB’s commands. For Gaussian elimination, Octave sure beats writing a PHP script to do it (which I did on Monday).

On a side note, getting Aptana to work on Gentoo is fairly painless, though its installation doesn’t comply with the Gentoo philosophy. Maybe when it comes out of beta I’ll help get it into portage. I’ve also written a simple bash script for loading Aptana, which will be available in the tools section on this site once I figure out exactly where Aptana’s files should go to be consistent with Gentoo’s installation methods. Since at the U of M they don’t automatically load the modules necessary to run MATLAB at login, and the matlab command doesn’t do it automatically I’ve written a simple bash script that should take care of this. It’s available for download in the tools section.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Sammy’s Banished

Sammy Kamkar, the one who over a year ago unleashed an exploit on MySpace that caused anyone who viewed his profile, or his friends’ profiles to automatically request to be his friend. MySpace filed a civil suit against Kamkar, who plead guilty and is now banished from the Internet for a classified amount of time. The plaintiffs claimed that they are “committed to protecting our community from any abusive misuse of the site.”

Frankly, after reviewing the code and reading the explanation of his method, the hack only worked for IE and certain versions of Safari. In reality the exploit was of both the browsers and MySpace, his code should never have executed in the browsers. News Corp. should go after Microsoft as they are equally responsible for this exploit. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how they will go about keeping him off the Internet.

In other news, Boston needs to get a brain. Overreacting to the ten or so PCBs with LEDs attached and a black plastic bag protecting the batteries was idiocy. If the police can’t tell the difference between a bomb and a LED sign, how are they supposed to do their job? Seriously the media needs to stop spreading misinformation and disinformation before the people revolt against them, oh wait that’s already about to happen (the Internet, YouTube, p2p, etc).

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]