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January 16, 2009

Using the Forerunner to "track write"

Interesting article in Runner's World where a lady used her GPS watch to create a message when overlaid on a map:
Let Her Spell It Out for You

I've thought about "track writing" with my Garmin Forerunner 305. The lady in this article used a 205. A 305 has a much better antenna, so I think the results would be much better.

Here's my example with the 2 devices:

Garmin 201 - Track workout, October 2006
Garmin Forerunner 201

Garmin 305 - Track workout, November 2008
Garmin Forerunner 305

The difference in the new antenna is remarkable.

January 13, 2009

My experience with the Garmin 305

A friend asked me this afternoon what I thought of the Garmin Forerunner 50. I've never used the 50, which is a heart rate monitor that relies on a footpod for speed and distance. My experience with footpods is limited to the Nike+ system, and I haven't been super impressed.

Personally, I started with the Forerunner 201 (GPS but no HR) in 2004 and graduated to a 305 (GPS and HR) in December 2007. I LOVE MY 305. Amazon has them for $165. Definitely worth the extra $88 over a Forerunner 50.
http://tinyurl.com/9e6br5

In the beginning, the GPS on the 201 was kind of flaky. I spent a lot of time reviewing my tracks and correcting crazy trackpoints. On the 305, the GPS is amazing. The new antenna used in the 305 is super accurate and I really like downloading my tracks after a workout. I also use the cadence sensor on my bike, which is really nice.

In terms of size, the 305 is a little bigger than a regular watch and not that big of a deal.

Finally, the Training Center bundled with the Forerunner is junk. Get SportTracks (www.zonefivesoftware.com).

And finally, ironic this is coming after my Dell rant, Garmin support is awesome.

Dell sucks

I just read in Groundswell the programs that Dell has implemented to be more customer centric and easier to work with. Well they have me fooled.

I need to replace the motherboard on my 600m. I can find a ton of motherboards on eBay, but not on dell.com. So I dial 1-800-WWW-DELL. All I want to know is if they have a 600m motherboard. First I have to navigate the painful voice menu. Then I get an operator. Finally in sales, I expect to have an answer fairly quickly. No. I am being asked to confirm every piece of information I have ever given Dell. Then I am asked to confirm I am calling about the 600m, because there are several laptops linked to my name. Two 600ms and a 700m. Yes, I am confident it is the 600m that's having the problem. Why do you want to replace the 600m motherboard? What is it doing? I explain I have researched it pretty thoroughly and even confirmed my suspicions on Dells forums. WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET? As cheap as possible. What were you doing before it started acting up? What is your 700m doing? Then she gets snippy when I suggest that what my 700m is doing is not germane to the reason for my call. She says something about she was "doing me a favor" and then puts me a hold. And never picks up again. After 5 minutes or so, I'm routed back to the switchboard to start the exercise over again. I hung up and dialed in again.

This time I was connected to someone who was "much more local". He apologized, researched the part for me and gave me the price.

It took me thirty minutes to find out if they had a part and how much it costs. Some customer centric groundswell.

NOTE: Did I mention that I am repairing the 600m so that I can give it to the girls when I buy a new laptop. Very soon. And do you think I'm going to be buying a Dell?

December 5, 2008

Muppet Christmas CD for less than a buck?

Gotta have it! ;-)

The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas

November 20, 2008

Garmin Rocks Part II

I've mentioned it before, but Garmin customer service is some of the best in the business. And I'm not saying that because they took care of me again. They have developed a loyalty from me that will extend to any GPS device I ever need to buy.

My 305 battery is no longer holding a charge for more than 3 or 4 hours. Yesterday's zen run prompted today's call to Garmin. They issued me a RMA number to send it back for a battery replacement. I'm going to put up with the inconvenience until after the Jacksonville Marathon. Then I will be able to be without it for 2-3 weeks.

If there was a viable next step in the Forerunner family, I probably would go ahead and upgrade. I'm just not sold on the 405, and the 305 meets all of my needs. The GPS is super accurate, the heart rate functionality works great, and I love the cadence sensor on my bike. The only downside is the Training Center PC software Garmin provides. No worries though, I use/love SportTracks.

October 21, 2008

Day 1 with the Amazon Kindle

I received an offer to try out the Amazon Kindle for 30-days. UPS delivered it late yesterday afternoon and within 15 minutes I was reading my first book. Still getting used to the navigation. I keep accidentally hitting the next page button. Waiting for the screen to refresh for every page also takes a little getting used to, but isn't a big deal. In terms of size, it is smaller and lighter than a Harry Potter book, but larger than a typical paperback. The form factor seems about right, but I'm still not sure about the case.

In terms of readability, it really is amazing how much eInk and the screen reads like real paper. The type is extremely sharp with no pixelation. While I wish it had a backlight, I understand why it doesn't. From one of the forums on Amazon:

The whole purpose of the eInk technology that the Kindle uses is so that it is easier on the eyes, unlike the backlit computer screens.

I just purchased a Kindle book with tips and tricks. I purchased it from my PC and it should be waiting for me on my Kindle to read as soon as I finish this entry.

Bottom line, at the end of day 1, I'm still not sold.

January 31, 2007

Just finished reading Empire

Empire

The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

I first heard about Empire while listening to an InstaPodcast interview with Orson Scott Card.  Not to be confused with the tin foil hat crowd, the idea of another American civil war is something I have considered as a possibility, and I have mentioned this scenario in conversations with Pete in the past.  Based on the current polarization of the country, the whole red state – blue state metaphor, I could imagine either an individual or a group convincing either side that the only way to prevail is through violence.  This instigator could either be a homegrown American, or someone supported by a country (or countries) that would like to see the US self-destruct.

In the interview, Card’s comment that people don’t willing become involved in civil wars until they find themselves in the middle and having to take sides was sobering.

I have read some folks characterize the book as FoxNews science fiction, because many of the central characters are members of the military and possess conservative values.  While this generalization may be true, someone in the book had to be the bad guy.  Perhaps this creates an opportunity for someone to write the CNN version where the good guys are sympathetic to a more liberal ideology.

Reviewing Card’s political ideology on Wikipedia, it is also easy to understand why he is so frustrated with the sharp polarization currently found in the US.  The current climate makes it difficult for a person who agrees with 90% of a party’s platform.  His views on several “passion issues” place him all over the political map.  He is a Democrat, but supported Bush in 2004. 

The book is a fast read. Because it is science fiction it contains some elements that might seem implausible based on the technology we are currently familiar with.  This is probably a good thing, as it prevents the reader from becoming too paranoid that civil war is inevitable.