AT Update: 10-Miler

 As planned, I managed to work in a longer hike this weekend. I had intended to hike 5 miles along the trail (which is over 7 miles long) and then hike back. However, at somewhere between 3 and 4 miles in I encountered a low water crossing and didn’t want to wade through it. There was a smaller trail continuing on without crossing, so I took that.

I followed the small trail for a while, including an unmarked merge onto another small trail, until it popped out near a commercial building. It appeared to continue on, but I wasn’t sure that it didn’t just loop back on itself, so I decided to just cut my hike short and head back to my car. If I recall correctly, this was just shy of 4 miles in.

On the hike back, I eventually decided that I would add another out-and-back in a different direction for the remaining time I had available. In a confirmation of my scheduling ability, the subsequent timed turnaround resulted in almost exactly 10 miles of total hiking (10.02). Success!

Based on the amount of battery drain the previous 6 mile hike had on my Watch when using it to track the hike, I left it in passive mode this time. Unfortunately, this led to neglecting to start the tracker on my iPhone as well. To somewhat compensate for this lapse, I decided to start tracking at the turnaround so that I could double the result. Of course, once I decided to add a second leg, it was necessary to stop the tracking at the second turnaround to get an accurate half log.

I’ve taken the elevation graph for the half I logged and flipped and expanded the two portions to show the whole 10 miles.  Oh, after the hike I discovered that one of my hiking poles had lost its rubber foot. Bummer.


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iPad Pro

When I purchased the original iPad, I didn’t have a use for it. I commented at the time that it was probably the largest frivolous purchase I’d ever made. I never regretted it and kept it until Apple announced that it wouldn’t get the next iOS release. It helped that the first Retina iPad was out by then, though it was the short-lived iPad 3 (or whatever it was called), which wasn’t a great iteration.

Once the iPad Mini existed, I was quite tempted by it for the potential of more comfortable reading in bed. However, giving up Retina was not an option. Eventually, the Retina version came out along side the iPad Air and very nearly feature equivalent with it. Mine! The next update to the Mini was fairly minor, with TouchID being the only change I recall. Not tempting enough.

Fast forward to the recent release of the 9.7″ iPad Pro. Nice. Pencil is cool, though I’m not an artist nor do I normally write by hand, so it’s not really something I’m likely to use. There are a number of improvements relative to my iPad Mini that actually matter to me, including split screen multitasking, TouchID, and more RAM. There are, of course, other improvements as well, but I don’t know that I’ll really notice them.

And yet, I bought one. I’m honestly not certain why. Having used it some, there are obviously advantages to the 9.7″ over the 7.9″, and the weight difference is pretty small (until you add the Smart Covers). I’m not unhappy with it and I expect it will probably grow on me.

(Based on Dave2‘s write-up, I may buy Procreate for Pencil fun!)


Welcome Back

Jumping right in…

Wrist News

(see Pebble on the Wrist)
It is presumably no surprise that I replaced my Pebble with an Watch pretty much immediately. The biggest thing I miss is being able to swim with the Pebble and have it (sort of) track laps. Having given up this functionality has resulted in giving up swimming as well. This is somewhat compensated by an increase in playing racquetball. 

The other feature I miss is the sleep tracking I’d started using via the Misfit app on the Pebble. Yesterday, I installed Sleep+ to attempt to track sleep with the Watch, but my first impression is that it doesn’t do as good a job. Also, the shorter battery life presents a potential challenge. Time will tell.

Completion of Mac Journey

(see The Long way Home)

Before my long hiatus, I think I may have still had a Windows system at home that got little to no use, a Windows laptop at work, and a Linux server hosting this blog along with a few other services. Since then, the home Windows system has been retired, the Linux system has been supplanted by an old MacBook Air with a broken screen, though the services have mostly been moved to various “clouds” (such as this blog being moved to, and the work Windows laptop went through a couple of years of being relegated to secondary status to my old 17″ MBP (as a BYOD at work) until recently being replaced entirely by a new work-provided 15″ Retina MBP.

Appalachian Trail

My friend Travis is a couple of weeks into a planned through hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. It’s over 2000 miles and will take him around five months to complete. In about a month I’ll be joining him for three days of hiking, though no camping, and expect we’ll hike almost 50 miles. I do a reasonable amount of running and walking, so I’m not overly concerned, but the first day is probably going to be a 20-miler, so I figure I ought to do some training. 

I’ve purchased some gear, including a small backpack better suited for this task than any I already had and a set of hiking poles. I’ve never used hiking poles before, so I watched a couple of YouTube videos and took them, the backpack, and a pair of trail shoes (because I definitely needed more shoes) on a trial 6-mile trail hike today. Well, yesterday by the time I post this.  

It took a few minutes for me to work out the rhythm of the poles, but after that, I really liked them, particularly for getting up and down the rocky micro-hills on this trail. I also appreciate that they moderate my typical pace. I’ll probably head back to this trail this weekend and aim for a 10-miler.


Pebble on the Wrist


Kickstarter Edition!


It would be nice if this view could be customized; perhaps a future update will enable that.

Back in April, I jumped on the opportunity to acquire Dave2‘s Pebble watch, Kickstarter Edition, at a bargain price. Shortly thereafter, the firmware was updated with several significant fixes and the expected addition of support for displaying running data from various iOS apps.

For me, displaying the run data completes the replacement of my GPS watch with my iPhone. I had already made the switch and adjusted to no longer being able to glance at my wrist for current data; it’s very nice to have that back.

Over the months I’ve had the Pebble, I’ve experimented with a number of watch faces, including a couple that pulled HTTP data via an extra iOS app. While those were nice, they drained the Pebble’s battery much too fast for my liking. I also suspect the app caused significant additional drain of my iPhone’s battery. One of the more entertaining watch faces I tried was Gallifrey Time by SzDom. I’m currently using Bigger Time by Gorges, which is by far my favorite.


“Gallifrey Time” – I had a fun time with this one for a while; only took a short time to learn to read it.

The best feature of the Pebble, naturally, is its raison d’être: notifications. The fully supported notifications (on iOS) are Phone, Messages and, mostly, Mail. The caveat for Mail is that use of Mail’s VIP feature disables Pebble notifications (unless that’s been fixed since I last checked on it). The Phone notifications aren’t particularly useful for me, as I almost certainly want to pull out my phone to deal with the call in one way or another. Rarely, I just want to ignore the call, which I can do from the Pebble. In theory, that is. For some reason, call notifications aren’t going to my Pebble at this moment for me to verify, though the “Missed Call” notification does come through.

Despite this limitation on supported apps for notifications, it turns out that getting other apps to work reliably is possible, if inconvenient. After the Pebble and iPhone are paired, you can go into the iPhone’s Settings->Notifications and, for each app that you want to have Pebble notifications, select it and toggle the “View in Lock Screen” setting off and then back on (it must be on). From that point forward, as long as the Pebble connection persists, notifications from those apps while show up on the Pebble. For some apps, I like to disable the iOS Sounds notification and rely on the Pebble.


“Bigger Watch” by Gorges

This is all well and good, and worth the minor inconvenience, except for one thing: the BlueTooth connection between the Pebble and the iPhone is fragile. I don’t know all of the triggers, but large spatial separation between the devices is certainly one of them. Once this happens, it is highly likely that the notification work-arounds will need to be re-done. Worse, I’ve had the connection drop without recovering on its own, necessitating a launch of the the Pebble app on the iPhone to see that they are not connected and to reconnect them semi-manually (starting the manual process seems to trigger the automatic one).


Getting vibration reminders on my wrist makes me more likely to take action.

For the most part, I’m quite happy with my Pebble. I admit, however, that some of this is with forward-looking optimism that leaves me expecting better reliability in the future. There’s some reason to think that iOS 7 will improve the connectivity, and future firmware updates from Pebble could possibly help as well.

Oh, one more thing, I think I get 5-7 days on a charge of the Pebble. I wish it gave a better warning that the battery is low. The indicator isn’t visible on the watch face, only in other views. If I see the indicator in the morning, the watch will usually last until that night, though I have had it die in the early evening. I could just charge it every night — I wish I weren’t paranoid about charging patterns affecting rechargeable battery life.





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Thanks to Wayne (@whall) for resurrecting my blog’s DNS entry. Now, who do I see about new content??


Day 25 of 30 Days of Water

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Day 24 of 30 Days of Water

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Day 23 of 30 Days of Water

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Day 22 of 30 Days of Water

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Day 21 of 30 Days of Water

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