Forerunner

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 walkjogrun.net (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 allot from Google Earth

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Rain

For the last 48 hours precipitation continually fell from the sky. Standing puddles developed in the yard over the course of the day. They conqueror more of the yard when the rain picks up, and slowly retreat when the rain slows. Supposedly, this weather will continue through the week, spare Tuesday. Thus, Tuesday will be the first day one will attempt to use the forerunner. Sure it boasts water impermeability up to 10 meters for up to 30 minutes (possibly akin one of those auto-manufactures warranty 10 meters or 30 minutes, what ever comes first). Sensibly speaking, GPS receivers do not fair well in cloudy conditions. So one might as well wait for the weather to improve, besides one can run inside anyways.

-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]

Spring Break

Busy as usual, but with the added freedom of deadline-less bliss. In the midst of this bliss, the reality of next week’s work load creeps up slowly. Three tests, plus what ever else has to be accomplished, leading one to have no life next week. Which must be compensated for this week. None-the-less some coding has been taking place, in one mindset it qualifies as studying for the C++ Lab test next week. This coding is for a client for whom one is doing a website redesign. Hopefully that will be finished by tomorrow so that the project mentioned in the previous post can make an alpha appearance on this blog by the weekend.

With temperatures in the 60s, short and tee shirt weather arrived early this year. This is a real motivator to start running again, especially after lack-luster dedication during the past summer and fall. Studies are partially to blame for this, as is the almost broken toe. Speaking of that toe, it is still slightly discolored and a bit swollen. However, it no longer hurts and running no longer has unbearable pains associated with it.

Running right after eating is a big no-no, the food stayed down but the pace sucked, only 3 miles in 30 minutes on a treadmill. Ideally 5 miles should have been covered in that amount of time, a pace of 6 minute miles rather than the awfully slow 10 minute mile pace.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

New Weblogs.us Mockup

Weblogs.us Mockup 2 rev 1I finished the second mockup for the new Weblogs.us front page, and in the forums everyone seems to love it, so I will modify the code that I’ve already written and finish up coding the new front page. Hopefully I will have a no-thrills xHtml/CSS layout done by the end of the week, with XJAX implementation by the end of next week, and then the backend stuff should be worked on by the next. If all goes well, Weblogs.us can have a May first reload, which is common on the internet. But that is assuming that I can get time to get the coding done ahead of schedule, which should be no problem until I hit the AJAX and PHP coding.

In other news, today we had a track meet, not the nicest weather to run in but not terrible. Wind made our times suffer, and I have yet to PR this season. Yesterday the two motherboards that were sent to Gigabyte for RMA service finally arrived back after being gone for 30 days. A chip supposedly had to be replaced, which made it take forever. I wasn’t able to see exactly what chip it was, but I’m guessing it was located near one of the PCI Express 1x slots, since on both boards the chip looked newer than the rest. The computers went back together in about 35 minutes each, and booted correctly on the first attempt. Meanwhile, I made a copy of all the music videos that I have on my hard drive for a friend, which took exactly 10GiB, three DVD4.5 GB disks (two full ones and 1.5GiB on the other), I only need 14 more videos to total 200 music videos in my collection.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]