The Get Human Database was mentioned on the Wall Street Journal This Morning podcast yesterday. This is a list of frequently used customer service numbers and the sequence you need to enter to quickly speak with a human.
Of course, there is no guarantee that all of the cheats still work. You know the phrase: "Please listen closely as our options have changed." Grrrr.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I made some changes to the blog over the holiday, including adding support for entry tags. As a result, it will be necessary to re-subscribe to the RSS feed. I am now handling my RSS feedsthrough Feedburner, so in the future if I make changes it won't be necessary to change subscriptions. Here is the new RSS feed. Please let me know if you notice any funkiness with the website.
There will most likely be additional changes soon. Movable Type 4 is in testing, but from what I have seen so far, I will make the jump when it is out of beta.
Before the race, I did quite a bit of research to figure out how to use my Garmin Forerunner 305 in the swim. There was a bit of information on the newsgroups, on some blogs, and on the MotionBased forums. The watch is certified to be water resistant at a depth of 1 meter. However, the force of the water on the watch if you wore it on your wrist for the swim would exceed that of a depth of 1 meter. I read where some folks stuck it under their swim caps. I tested that method and thought that had to be the craziest set-up ever. Also, hoping I pushed the right buttons before the race was more of a risk than I wanted to take. Finally, I read quite a few people's experiences using the velcro strap extender and wearing the watch above the bicep. I was still a bit worried, because I also read nightmares of the watch ending up on the bottom of a lake. I ended up using the quick-release mount and the velcro extension, and my experience was terrific. Five days later there is still no evidence of adverse effects on the watch, no sign of moisture under the screen, and the wrist mount really secures the watch. So much so, I remember wrestling with it in T1 trying to pop it out so I could put the watch on the bike mount. A couple of times during the swim, I remember glancing over to make sure the watch was still there. No worries! Very satisfied with the performance. The map it produced is kind of screwy. I know I was off track a bit, but I think a lot of the wierd tangents have more to do with it being underwater intermittently and losing satellite reception.
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 7:20 PM|Permalink
May 7, 2007
Just had a bit of a scare with my Forerunner 305. I tried to synch it with the PC, and the Forerunner was dead. Nothing. Took it out of the cradle, tried to turn it on, nothing. Unplugged the cradle from the USB and plugged it into the power cord, nothing.
Called Garmin support, they suggested a hard reset, although I would lose all of my data. No problem. To do a hard reset, hold down the mode and reset buttons for 5 seconds and then press power. It worked! And as a bonus, I didn't lose any data. Sweet!
Not sure what happened, but it freaked me out. My Forerunner is my favorite training tool and I'm glad to know I won't have to spend time without it.
By the way, Amazon has the Forerunner 305 for $206 after $50 mail-in rebate. A great deal. Click the link above to check it out.
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 1:26 PM|Permalink
March 6, 2007
I heard that the newly modified Daylight Savings Time schedule would cause problems and was being considered a mini-Y2K. I just found out that my Treo needs to be updated because of the new schedule. Technology always seems to have a 'gotcha' moment.
I saw this in the current issue of Runners World and thought it was pretty nifty.
Who says the treadmill is boring? Not the members of OK Go, whose music video "Here It Goes Again" features the foursome dancing across treadmills set at two miles per hour... After eight days and 20 takes, the three-minute-long video was perfected, and the musicians felt as sore as marathoners.
Went for a 50–mile bike ride at the Baldwin Rail Trail this past Saturday with Peter King. I have done the loop in the past with Mike McLamb and had a pretty good idea of directions. Unfortunately, Peter and I missed the turn on to Plummer Road. We went about 3 miles past it, and realized we were in unchartered territory. We turned around and headed back the way we came, but were unsure by how much we overshot Plummer. We stopped at the intersection of Acree and New Kings, and I pulled out my Treo and fired up Google Maps. In 30 seconds, I was looking at where we were on the map, and scrolled down and found Plummer a little farther south. Sweet!
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 7:07 AM|Permalink
December 14, 2006
New Forerunner 305
My parents bought me a Forerunner 305 for Christmas. Since I'm running the Jacksonville Marathon this Sunday, I was allowed to have it early. I am very excited I won't have to run with my Polar HR monitor on my left wrist and my Forerunner 201 on my left wrist. Everything is now in one nice package. I'm still hoping for the cadence sensor, so I may have all of my training data needs handled by a single source in time to begin triathlon training next year.
I had heard that the GPS antenna in the 305 was really good. I had no idea how much better it was until I used it for the first time this morning on the track. The 2 photos below tell the story.
The accuracy of the new unit is incredible. I knew that the tight turns of a track were hard for a GPS to track, but that seems to be a non-issue with the 305.
I can't wait to use it in the marathon!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention, that one line that looks like I ran across the field is not an error. I hit the stop button instead of the lap button at the end of an interval and didn't realize the watch wasn't running until I was halfway around the track.
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 5:22 PM|Permalink
March 30, 2006
Tivo up 10% on the day!
Appears like things are going well for Tivo in their court case against Echostar for patent infringement. Yeah! I was tired of the red numbers in my portfolio. With the run-up over the last week and cost-based averaging, I'm now up a little over 20%. Woo-hoo!
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 5:04 PM|Permalink
March 8, 2006
Installed Media Manager
Well, I have Media Manager installed, sort of. Tried to get it to work this past weekend. Finally, Sunday afternoon, I decided to try using IE to see if it made a difference (instead of Firefox). It did. Everything works in IE, except for the layout and edit image buttons in the MM toolbar. For some reason, when you click those, nothing happens. I cleared the cache in Firefox to see if the problems I was encountering were a cache issue. I could then add a review to an item and the toolbar works great. My only problem with Firefox is if I click 'Add an item to queue', I get the weird path error again. Nonetheless, it works well enough to add the "What I'm listening to" and "What I'm reading" to my blog. I just have to use IE and Firefox to pull it together.
Now, what I really want to do is export a weekly XML file of the songs on my iPod Shuffle, and build a page with links to Amazon using MT Amazon. I replace all of the songs on my Shuffle every week using the Autofill feature. With over 20,000 MP3s available, it really produces some eclectic mixes. I do delete the Christmas songs manually. I need to figure out a way to do this. . .
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 8:32 AM|Permalink
March 3, 2006
What's he doing now?
I just installed Sidebar Manager. A cool application that let's you control the content of your blog's sidebar with a drag and drop interface. You can install cool widgets into the manager. Now I need to work on the formatting. I have been tossing stuff into the CSS. I dread going in there and cleaning it up.
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 3:25 PM|Permalink
March 2, 2006
Upgraded to Flickr Pro
I just upgraded my Flickr account to pro. That means I get 2GB of upload bandwidth a month and unlimited sets. Yeah! I was thinking about building a custom photo gallery, but I couldn't find one I really liked, and $24.95 a year is a pretty darn good deal.
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 5:36 PM|Permalink
March 1, 2006
The PDA/mobile version of MetaMarshall.com, MobileMetaMarshall is now built. A little formatting to do, but it looks pretty good on the Treo. I tried to strip images out for the mobile presentation, but ended up stripping links out as well. I figured out a hack I could do that would list the stripped links at the end of the entry, but didn't like that idea. Most entry images aren't that large, and the main benefits of this version are no header, top menu, or sidebar.
Now I'm having problems with my Atom feed. I can receive the posts in Omea, but when I click on one to open it in a browser, I get an error. Can't find any info on the error on the forums. I'll have to keep looking. My other RSS feed (RDF?) works fine.
I also found a plugin that allows users to add custom fields to entries. I'm going to install this so I can add GPS coordinates and create on-the-fly markers on my GPS map without having to handcode the HTML. Should be fancy!
| Posted by Marshall M. Butler at 10:22 AM|Permalink