Tag Archives: iphone

ScribsBlog gets Runkeeper Healthy button!!

5 Apr

 Thanks to Bill Day’s post at Heath Graph Blog, ScribsBlog now has a Runkeeper Healthly button, at the bottom of each post!!

Now all I need is a ‘how to’ on getting the ‘Fitness Widget Generator’ working on WordPress.com.

Officially WordPress.com do not support the user manipulation of the technology behind Fitness Widget Generator (like you can on WordPress.org) so you can’t add it, so heres hoping someone in the WordPress.com team would be kind enough to create a widget for us to us???

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Runkeeper gets auto pause. Updated.

30 Oct

Its been a long awaited feature that has finally appeared in the latest version of Runkeeper for iPhone (2.5.0.0). What is it?

Auto Pause!

The theory is that with auto pause, enabled from the App ‘settings’ page, that your current activity will pause automatically if you ‘stop’. When you resume the activity will also resume, automatically.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any further information on the criteria for a ‘stop’. For example; some run tracking apps will auto pause if your activity distance drops dramatically to a crawl, others will class a stop as a literal stop, which I’m assuming is what Runkeeper is doing.

Android users will currently have to wait as this feature, and others, are in the current beta version.

More info here and on the RunKeeper support pages.

 

Update: I used auto pause this morning and it worked well and as expected. I was doing a cycling activity and had to stop of traffic lights. As I did Runkeeper automatically paused the activity and then resumed a few seconds after I resumed my peddling. Seems like a feature I’ll keep enabled as it works as described.

You may be asking what’s the point of auto pause and to answer that you have to appreciate that if you stop during an activity, say to talk to someone or to wait for traffic, etc, you stats (average pace, etc) start to be effected. You may ask “so what?” and for some people that may not matter. However, if you are training seriously your stats can be quite important as you try and improve your performance.

Books, paper and eReaders – Do we still have to use dead trees?

16 Oct

Since getting the Kindle App for my iPhone, iPad & Mac I can honestly say I have not read as much in my life!

Its just so convenient and you feel a little better that you are not contributing as much to the death of  trees.

I tried the iBook App from Apple originally, but I found that a lot of books I wanted were simply not available in the Apple book store. Frustrated, I tried the Kindle App and I haven’t looked back since. To be fair to Apple they are fairly new in this game and Amazon, who invented the Kindle world, have been doing it much longer and as a result have the publishing supply chain well established.

One thing I love about using an eReader, be it physical like the Kindle itself, or virtual like an App, is the fact that you can quickly grow a reading list of books you want to read in the future.

Amazon Kindle

What do I mean by a reading list? From time to time you stumble across a book title that you fancy reading (i.e. via a recommendation from someone else, a review you read, a title you’ve always wanted to read, the current best seller), but if you are already in the middle of another book you have to remember it or write it down. In the ‘old days’ of paper based reading I’d often forget what the book recommendation was, thinking I’d remember it – I never did, and was left thinking ‘what was that book!’. There was a second ‘got ya’ when you purchased a book, what if you didn’t like it!

With the eReader, for me, that problem dissapears to a large extent because I’ve got into the habbit of downloading the free sample of a book I fancy. The sample simply sits there in my eReader library waiting to be read, no physical book shelf required here. By the time I finish my current book I’ve normally got a queue of free samples to browse through. If I like the sample (which is normally the first chapter) I’ll buy the full version. If not I’ll delete it. Simple, efficient and environmentally friendly.

That leads me nicely onto the second thing I love about eReaders. If I want a book, assuming its in the eReader store, I can have it in seconds! Gone are the days of waiting for a book to arrive in the post, or to have to trudge down to the shops hoping they have it in stock. Simply select the book in the online book store and press ‘download’!

Paper production - Dead trees

I guess you can also consider the space, production, logistics and transport saving from not having to produce and cart dead trees

(paper) all over the world. Yes, there is an environmental impact to making and supporting eReaders, but once they become common place the environmental savings will be huge, especially considering that quick ‘throw away’ paper media like News papers and magazines are also starting to make an appearance on eReaders. Imagine how much cost and environmental impact just one major Newspaper causes per day.

Paper waste

Apple has just brought out the ‘Newsstand’ App for magazine viewing with iOS 5. I’m currently subscribed to the paper version of Runners World and, after reading the free electronic sample of Runners World on NewsStand, I’ll definatley be moving my subscription over the eReader version as soon as possible.

Reading on a eReader, for me, is easier, simpler and better than the paper version.

Ah, but what about battery life? What about it? I don’t have to charge my iPad for over a week and thats with fairly heavy usage. The Kindle, because of its E Ink technology, boasts a battery life of two months! Yes you read it correctly – TWO MONTHS!

But I can’t afford an eReader compared to a book with is just a few pounds! Yes, its true that the iPad is expensive, but in my opinion very well worth it. But the new Kindle, that came out last month, is only £89. OK, that’s still more than a book made out of paper, but consider that paper books are generally more expensive that the electronic version, simply because they cost more to produce.

For example I’m currently reading ‘Deamon’ by Daniel Suarex. On the Amazon book store the cheapest paper back version of Deamon is £3.52, a used hardback you can pick up for $4.52, whereas the Kindle (eReader) version is £0.99! Yes 99 pence! This is one of the better deals and most Kindle books are around £1 cheaper than the dead tree version, but you get the point. This is also not including the fact that you can get hold of a lot of ebooks for free if you look around. Some eReaders offer you the ability to import your own documents, so if you do get a free electronic version of a book you can still read it on your eReader.

If you read a fair amount, and you’ll probably read more with an eReader, it might not be as expensive as you fist though. Also take into account of the space saving in not having all those finished book lying around gathering dust and getting in the way.

iPhone 4s still stays dry with ZipLock bag!

15 Oct

A few days ago we, OK us geeks, waited with baited breath to see what would be in the Apple announcement.

Would it be a new iPhone? Would that iPhone be an iPhone 5? One thought that went through my mind was ‘If its a iPhone 5, presumably with a new body design, would it still fit into a ZipLock bag?”.

Why on earth would I want to put an iPhone, or any expensive smart phone, into a ZipLock bag? I does sound a bit mad, but there is logic in my madness. If you read my “Keep that iPhone dry – Perfect ZipLock bag size” and “Running kit” posts you’ll see why.

However to summarise: I go running in the rain sometimes and needed a cheap, reliable way to keep my really expensive smart phone (iPhone 4) dry, as I use a running tacking App called Runkeeper (its also a good idea to carry a phone whilst running for safety and emergencies).

iPhone 4s

I couldn’t find any purpose made, snug fitting, waterproof ‘bags’ for the iPhone 4 (or any other model for that matter) on the market, that would allow me to keep the waterproofed iPhone in my running armband or running belt.

However, after a big of googling I stumbled across the idea of using a ZipLock bag instead. And talk about cheap! No £££ cost as you can buy around 100 ZipLock bags for less that the cost of a bottle of water!

So the Apple media event came and went and the new phone wasn’t a iPhone 5, it was the iPhone 4s, which externally looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4. So no need to get onto ebay to buy any more ZipLock bags.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 12 months time when the iPhone 5 finally make an appearance!

iOS 5 is now available + more (updated)

12 Oct

OK geek time at ScribsBlog!

Apple have just released iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod! But not only that, to support iCloud there is also an update for Mac OS.

Also in the Apple update news today are new iOS 5 apps including an iOS 5 Airport/Time Machine utility and ‘Find my Friends’ app.

Not forgetting that the iPhone 4s will be released on Friday!

It certainly going to be a busy download night tonight!

 

Update: Apply TV update now availae offering:

AirPlay Mirroring, Photo Stream, Trailers, National Hockey League and Wall Street Journal Live

My broadband is going to be bus tonight!

More info on MacRumours: http://www.macrumors.com


BUPA Great North run 2011 – Run report.

25 Sep

2011 BUPA Great North run - Scrib happy to have finished in front of charity Village

WOW! Its done! And it took me 1:43:45!

My first, and not last, half MarathonThe BUPA Great North run is completed! It certainly was an ‘experience’ and one I’d hope to do again.

Its been a full week since the event so its been a good time to reflect. Last week the original plan was to travel up to Newcastle on the Sunday morning. This would have meant at least a 05:30 get up, followed by a 2 to 3+ hour drive, depending of traffic. Rumour had it that traffic was a nightmare, like it is at most large events I guess.

The Friday before we decided that this was ‘doable’, but a bit crazy when considering we were travelling home after the event, and not forgetting that being rested before a 13.2 mile run is always a good start. So we managed to make a last minute booking into a hotel just off the M6 at Carlise, about a 70 minute drive away  from Newcastle upon Tyne and the start line. This knocked a good 80 minutes off the journey and allowed a ‘sleep in’ until at least 6am. As it turned out we could have slept in longer!

We left the hotel bang on 7am, after getting up, eating a large bowl cold porridge (first mistake) with honey, raisins, milk and OJ, and then heading east to Newcastle. The weather looked promising, with little cloud, and the sun coming up. It was certainly better than the past few days of torrential rain and strong winds. My wife was driving and I remember looking at what I was wearing (running vest, shorts, sock & trainers) and then glancing at the external temperature readout on the dashboard, 5 °C!

The road was clear and we had been told by many, many people of the extreme traffic jams leading up the the Great North run start line, and also when leaving at the end of the run at South Shields. At the moment the road was clear and, on a normal day, it would take us 70 minutes from the hotel at Carlise to Newcastle.

The previous night I had calculated we’d be hitting heavy traffic, all trying to get to the start line, at about 7:50am. Assuming the worst case scenario, an hour delay stuck in traffic (again, going from what I had read and been told) I figured I’d be dropped off at around 9:30 – 9:45am (worst case) which gave me plenty of time to get to my starting zone ready for the 10:40 start.

‘Should be a little warmer by 09:30’ I though, so I didn’t get too worried about the temperature outside. As sods law would have it we’d (OK, I’d) drastically over estimated the travel time and traffic conditions. We hit ZERO traffic and before we knew it we were at a red traffic light right beside the start area. I was hurriedly ejected from the car, between traffic light changes, and dumped at the side of the road at a chilling 8:15am! It was still cold!

A had a plastic bag with me, containing a bag of nuts, water, energy drink and a poncho. I quickly put the poncho on to try and retain some heat and wondered off towards the starting zones.

2011 BUPA Great North run - Waiting at start zone. Over an hour to go.

The zones run from ‘A’ through ‘K’, ‘A’ being the Elite Athletes. My zone was ‘C’,so I found a nice spot on the grass verge, beside the road,  and settled down for a 2+ hour wait. As soon as I had sat down the sun came out from behind a cloud and things started to warm up nicely. I sat there  listening to the DJ interviewing runners who were taking part. There were some really heart clenching stories of runners who were running for depart loved ones. It really puts things in perspective!

Its often said ‘its a small world’, and on that day I had to agree. After being dropped off, whilst walking to the zones area, I bumped into a neighbour. We had no idea that the other was taking part. We wished each other luck and went our separate ways.

Then whilst sitting on the grass verge, warming myself in the morning sun, I saw fitlesley, a friend of mine from Runkeeper. I’d never actually met Lesley before and we’d only spoken over Runkeeper, our blogs and Facebook, so it was great to meet at last! We joked at the fact that Lesley spotted me in a crowd of 50,000 people. Small world indeed, or just good eyesight!

Eventually, around 10:15am, I made my way into my starting Zone, dumped my plastic bag in the central reservation along with thousands of other bags, clothes, ponchos, thermal blankets, etc and started my warm up. It was a little cramped and it felt a bit awkward doing lunges and stretches in such closer quarters. Everyone seems to have their own warm up routine and I picked up a few new ideas to add to my own. It was interesting to watch what routines people had and how they differed.

10:30: Warm up complete. The zone gate is now closed, meaning anyone not in their allocated zone would have to go right to the back behind zone ‘K’.

10:35: Poncho now joins plastic bag in central reservation.

10:38: Runkeeper started on my iPhone, iPhone put in zip lock bag (in case of showers later on), finger ready on ‘Start Activity’ button.

10:40: The starting gun fires! We start walking forward, and I can see from the mass of bobbing heads in front that we’ll be speeding up to a slow jog within a minute or so as we cross the start line. ‘Start Activity’ pressed and Runkeeper announces ‘Activity Started’. iPhone screen lock pressed and iPhone put into armband, just as the crowd breaks into a run. And we’re off!

As you’d expect there was a LOT of noise, what with air horns going off, music playing, the DJ shouting out encouragement – pretty awesome! Within a few minutes the speed had increased, but was still at a slower pace than felt comfortable, so I joined with some of the other runners in weaving through the slower competitors. A trick I leaned on the Keswick to Barrow was to find a runner who is ploughing through the crowd and stay on their heals. They’ll do all the hard work for you and clear the way. A few minutes into the run and we go though a tunnel. Suddenly the noise levels increase from the runners as they take advantage of the echo’s from the tunnel walls. A few ‘Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!’ chants start up, and you can’t help with the reply of ‘Oi! Oi! Oi!’. Everyone is excited and full of adrenalin!

1 Mile: Runkeeper announces the first mile and there is a bit of relief that I managed to start the activity recording successfully, considering everything that was going on at the start.

2 Miles: We’re now well into our stride. The crowd has thinned out slightly, but only slightly, and its still shoulder to shoulder. We make our way across the famous Tyne bridge and soon hit the 2 mile mark, its about that time that I release something is not right.

Scrib running acorss the Tyne bridge on the BUPA Great North run

Yes I am in this picture.

If you don’t want to play ‘wheres Scrib’ then I’m on the left hand side, about seven people from the left, about eight people back.

I’m not relaxing into the run as I normally would at the two mile mark. I’ve been running for a few years now and I’ve also noticed (for me) that it takes a couple of miles for my body to kick into life and go into ‘running mode’. This wasn’t happening and I didn’t feel ‘right’. Was it nerves? Had I eaten too much? Was it that cold porridge? Did I drink too much energy drink, What was wrong?

I knew from doing other events that nerves wasn’t really a problem and I had a sneaking suspicion that I had too much swilling around in my stomach, which was making my uncomfortable and stopping me entering my ‘zone’. I’d had my breakfast, at the hotel, some 3 -4 hours eariler, but I had also been snacking on nuts, water and half a bottle of isotonic drink (that I don’t usually touch). Nothing I can do about it now, grit teach and keep going!

4 Miles: I was in trouble. My mind was not on my run at all and I was starting to panic. I did the classic mistake of worrying about when the next mile marker was, how far it was, ‘surly it can’t be this far to the next marker!’. A classic mistake and I knew it! I kept getting bottles of water at the water stations and making sure I kept hydrated and cool, but also ensuring I wasn’t taking too much in.

Was it the hills? Normally, when I run at home there are a lot of steep hills. You can’t go far without running (pardon the pun) into one. But I have also noticed that if I run, on the flat, for any distance I struggle more than if I throw in a couple of hills into the route. I’m not sure why this is and I always surmised that the hills kick your body into a higher gear so the straights are less of a challenge. The Great North run has hills, but they are very slight gradients. Perhaps this was the problem?

7 Miles: I started to finally relax! I got into my stride and stared to finally enjoy the run. Th crowd had thinned out a little more and I remember how impressed I was at the people who had dressed up in fancy dress. I was hot running in my running gear, god knows how they felt!

10 Miles: Watching the 10 mile marker go by was great. I  knew the worst was behind and I tried to pick up my speed. The road was getting fairly steep so I pushed on trying to maintain my pace. At this point the heavens opened and it started to rain. One of my favourite things about running is running in the elements and the rain was a welcomed cool off.

12 Miles: What goes up, must come down! The road has already plateaued and now there was a steep drop to the coast road and the final stretch. I had something left in the tank so I picked up the pace down the hill, remembering to keep light on my feet.

Scribs crossing the finish line at the 2011 BUPA Great North run

Final stretch: The final stretch was very flat as the road meets the ‘Coast road’ which, as its name implies, runs along the coast. I can’t see the finish because of the crowds, but its close.

I push forward figuring I’d try and burn up the last of my reserves in a final burst. It wasn’t that easy as there was still a large amount of people on the road, but I managed to do a fair job of reaching the finish line in a good time.

Once across the line I stopped Runkeeper and made my way to the Charity village to meet my wife. The rain was falling still but it didn’t matter!

Scribs Runkeeper activity for the 2011 BUPA Great North run

I completed the BUPA Great North run in 1:43:45, which you can see here.

Am I pleased with that time? Yes of course! When signed up for the event and gave my expected time (they use this to figure out your starting zone) of 1:40, which I didn’t actually expect to achieve and would have been happy with 1:50 – 2:00. So 1:43:45 was a great result!

But to be honest I’m wondering if I would have done better if I hadn’t had a sloppy first half. Its funny when you do an event, sometimes afterwards you think of things you did wrong or things you could have improved upon. With experience you get better and this is certainly true for running.

Maybe that’s just me? But in every event I’ve finished I’m always thinking ‘I could have done better than that!’ or ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I shouldn’t have done that!’.

Its a good way of driving yourself on. Accepting you did an OK job, but then trying to improve on it, never accepting you did your best and there is room for improvement, always thinking you can do better. But now and again giving yourself a pat on the back and a well done! All the training paid off, you did it!

Keep that iPhone dry – Perfect ZipLock bag size!

6 Sep

I blogged while back, in my Running Kit post, about how I use Ziplock bags to keep my iPhone (running RunKeeper) dry on wet runs, a fairly common occurrence in the UK. Now, I know this isn’t the most interesting subject, but the weather can be yet another excuse not to go out, especially if you’re carrying an expensive electrical device, like a smart phone for monitoring your activity.

On those rainy days I simply pop the iPhone into my trusty ziplock bag (normally double bagging for extra safety), start of Runkeeper (yes, you can still use the iPhone through the plastic of the bags), pop it in my Photon running belt and off I go. In the past I’ve done this in anything from light drizzle to an absolute downpour and so far the ziplocks have servered me well.

The bags last a while, but aren’t really designed for extensive reuse so I do replace them every few weeks for a fresh one. They are so cheap (100 for less than £2) its not exactly a financial burden.

The only niggle was that the ziplock bag I used was 7.5″ x 5″ which meant the bag was a bit too wide for the iPhone. Not a problem as I could simply fold the extraneous bag width back across the phone. The only issue with this was that the ziplock seal was then  bent, and bending seals is not a good idea. This is probably why I opted for the double bag approach in the first place, but even then both seals (the inner and outer bag) were bent over.

Anyway, my 7.5″ x 5″ bags were running short due to wear and tear and being used by family members for other purposes, so I needed to order some more. I took the oppertunity to rethink the size issue. After a quick look on Amazon I found a ziplock bag with the dimentions of 7.5″ x 3″. I thought I’d give this version a go so I bounght 100 of them and another 100 of the 7.5″ x 5″ version, just in case.

The 7.5″ x 3″ works really well. The iPhone (iPhone 4 in case you are wondering) fits in snuggly and you can also – just – double bag it using two 7.5″ x 3″. No extraneous bag width, so no seal bending and less chance of a leak. I still double bag, but that’s just me being cautious.

For less than £2 for 100 you can’t go wrong and I have yet to find a light, slim iPhone armband or ‘jacket’ that’s downpour waterproof.

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