The beacon of light

iOS 7.0 is a completely redesigned operating system. The surface changes are so blatant that many have overlooked tons of new features hidden under the hood. One of those features is iBeacons. These are tiny, low-power devices that can be used for a whole new category of applications, opening up venues for App Store competitiveness and untold enterprise app opportunities. This time, there may not have been a shot heard round the world, but a revolution did just take place.

Consider this. Isn’t it strange that your smartphone can know your location all the way down to nearest few meters, but it isn’t smart enough to know that you are sitting at your desk reading this? That’s the problem iBeacons and its partner technology, Bluetooth Low Energy, solve. iBeacons are a simple means of adding the indoor context to your smartphone’s vocabulary. It’s a way of telling your smartphone where you are indoors and what’s nearby.

In principle, the new possibilities that this allows are practically limitless. Restaurants can know which table you are sitting at. Retailers can know exactly what clothing display you are looking at. Museums can know that you are looking at one masterpiece as opposed to another. Apps that are installed on your phone can provide you with contextually relevant information inside small indoor spaces. And that’s just the beginning.

Imagine going to a bar and never having to fight for the bartender’s attention. You just select a drink, pay, and someone brings it to you. Imagine going to a store, grabbing your goods, and simply leaving. If iBeacons can communicate with your phone, and they can recognize you from others in a small space, then you ought to be able to use your smartphone to make frictionless mobile payments anywhere you go. Some thought this would be the domain of near field communication, but it looks like Bluetooth Low Energy will snatch up that role.

Right at this moment, many startups are forming around the use iBeacons. They anticipate the beginning of a new age of indoor mapping and apps that are even more contextually aware. The only conceivable barricade to their success is the somewhat closed nature of Apple’s iPhone and the lack of a practical means of notifying customers of the many iBeacon aware apps that will surely become available.

In order for any app to communicate with iBeacons, it must be installed on a mobile device. This creates a chicken and egg problem for developers. Their goal is to use iBeacons to get more users, but that also means users need to have the app in the first place. If too many businesses start building their own iBeacon-aware apps, it can create fragmentation on a massive scale that might make people look the other way.

Besides, who really wants to download a bunch of different apps to handle ordering at different restaurants? Wouldn’t it be better to have a single, universally accepted app to handle that, an app that would be useful at every restaurant you go to? People are already quite resistant to downloading apps for websites they like to visit. How is it any different when it comes to places in the real world that they like to visit?

It is clear that someone has his or her work cut out. The company that establishes these universally accepted platforms stands to make a lot of money from iBeacons. Whether such a standard will come to be adopted truly remains to be seen. It is possible that we will end up with something like Android, with all kinds of players attempting to make their stamp but nobody truly dominating. Some might say this is a good thing for the market, but for average everyday users it most certainly is not.

I think the responsibility also lies with Apple. They need to rein in some of the fragmentation that is most likely to result. Apple Maps would be a good place to start. If Apple can handle all of the indoor mapping of places that use iBeacons, and they can do it in the best possible way, then third-party developers won’t be so tempted to create dozens and dozens of applications that are truly islands unto themselves. That’s the world of Android. It’s a world I choose not to live in because, simply put, it sucks.

And if Apple is anything like the company I know it to be, they won’t allow it.

Is there anything left for Blackberry?

BlackBerry should consider selling its assets to a single buyer. The technology (the phones, the OS, BES) will be difficult to split up and sell off. Everything is so inextricably linked (something BlackBerry management boasted of) it doesn’t make much sense to unravel it all. There’s very little magic still left in mobile hardware anyway. Instead, the mobile battle will be won by those who own the mobile personal cloud, and all of the services tied to it (for Apple, iOS, iCloud, iTunes, Siri, Passbook, Maps; for Google, Android, Google Now, Google Maps, Go). BlackBerry simply doesn’t have an ecosystem to speak of, no matter how good its phones are, or how innovative its OS is.
– originally posted on Pandodaily

To buy a Wahoo KiCKR indoor bike trainer, or not

Warning, this maybe a fairly long post as I want to capture all my thoughts and posts from other sites that I have done in one place. It may also change over time due to me updating and adding and or removing stuff. So buckle up and grab a few coffees.

Now to set the scene. I’m an avid bike rider as of late last year. I currently ride a Felt F1 with full Dura-Ace which I’m loving. So enough of my shit, lets get to this.

Being in Australia I had to wait until Wahoo were shipping here – which has been a little, however, when I heard that Australia was on the cards for a shipment, I put my name down. A few weeks ago the large box arrived and I certainly couldn’t wait to get things going.

Once all setup, I installed the iDevice app and from here things got exciting. This was less than a few minutes of downloading and connecting. The app I downloaded first was the Wahoo apps – both the utility and fitness.

What Apps? From here I wanted to get started on seeing what all the excitement was around the resistance and apps that would power that – so I tried Kinomap Trainer. The installation was a little, and little, I mean one extra step, to get going. I had to make sure I had installed the Wahoo Utility onto my iDevice (this time on my iPad) as you have to kick things off with that app first and then close it down and fire up Kinomap trainer.

What an awesome idea and concept. Allow me to digress just a bit. The UI could do with some work as I thought is was a little messy. Other than that, it worked as described. I did have a small issue – all to do with me, not the app. The support was super quick – something that sets developers apart in my mind. So a big thumbs up from me for this app. If I was to give a mark, I’d say 7/10. Great idea, slightly marked down for UI execution.

Next, I moved onto TrainerRoad (TR). As a heavy Mac (MacBook Pro with retina) user I was a little hesitant to install it as it used Adobe Air. I’m not a fan of anything Adobe in their app stable. I reached out to Nate at TR and he was more than obliging to chat to me about their roadmap.

I finally succumbed to the TR itch and rolled over and took the red pill and installed Trainer Road. Once installed the configuration was a breeze. A few clicks and I’d connected the Kickr to my MBP.

I then decided to add the well-known video series from Sufferfest. This integration is perfect. Just drag ‘n’ drop your video onto TR and your are ready to be smashed by the minions.

Videos + TrainerRoad. This was a game changer for me. Just having the Kickr and nothing else, I feel, would be a waste of time. I’m currently in the middle of a 10 week program which is from Sufferfest and its tough enough. All the videos are sync’ed up with TrainerRoad which, as you mentioned, change the resistance (watts) that is required to get through the workout. It’s funny, the only veritable that I now focus on is cadence (rpm). The resistance/watts are taken care of.

I’ve tried Kinomap for iPad and I felt its a little gimmicky for my liking. I understand what they are try to do but the execution of the app etc is a little poor.

I actually use some other sessions from TrainerRoad to do my Zone 2 (Z2) sessions. TR has plenty of non-video sessions, but I’m a fan of them – especially SF ones. I’ve purchased one Epic Ride session but haven’t done it yet.

The major point, or selling point, of TR is that you set your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) in it and it works out the rest for you, which includes what zones you should be in when training with by a SF video or just a non-video session.

My overall experience with TR I’d rate at 9/10. The UI decisions of TR provide you with just enough information and they don’t overload the screen with unwanted details – perfect in my books. I’m looking forward to what the team does moving forward. They have certainly built a great app along with some great features.

The thing for me is that you can ensure you are doing the right training at the right time – so removing the guess work.

Changing the wheel. This is really simple and you’ll get used to after a few goes at it. It’s probably a little easier as the Kickr is stationary – not like your bike and wheel. It’s sits on the Kickr the same way as you would sit the bike on your wheel so there isn’t anything else you need to learn.

I haven’t needed to change the cassette some cant tell you how easy or hard it would be. I’d assume its like removing a cassette from your bike.

My setup. I have a new Apple Macbook Pro (with Bluetooth 4), Garmin heart rate monitor chest strap, Garmin cadence sensor and a Garmin USB/Ant+ adopter (used for connecting my Garmin stuff to the laptop and then to TR). You can certainly use a Windows machine for this as well.

TR captures and the ride data which then can be exported to any other service, such as Strava , which I use for all my riding. I use it as a training diary and is great to reflect on what you have been up to. If you’ve not seen Strava before, click the link below and see some of my activities – most of my indoor session are private – doing stealth training :).

So, in summary, if anyone is looking at purchasing a new indoor trainer then the KiCKR is the one. A very solid construction coupled with an open architecture which allows for a wide range of apps and accessories.

Does this make NFC dead?

Several months back I has made a comment about NFC, well, maybe more of a reference about it.

I think more now than ever that this technology is harder to justify. The problems are slowly becoming evident but I wont bore you with that, but instead lets look at what Apple have just release in iOS 7.

The technology they have employed, which is just extending it from the Mac, is called AirDrop. This allows the user to instantly create a Peer-to-Peer ad-hoc network between another person, either over Bluetooth or WiFi. Sure, most people would think that this is just to share a contact or a file. At the end of the day it’s just data. But the premise is still the same should a transaction need to take place.

The current players such as Samsung require you to ‘bump’ your device – which is a little unnatural. Even using NFC requires you to either touch or be a few centimetres away from the device – be it another phone or terminal. Tapping still feels a little unnatural in my view.

To top it off Apple currently has, as of WWDC, around 600M iOS 6 devices out there which would give a huge leg up over the other players in the market. And if you connect the dots, Apple will has a very mature platform in which they can quickly turn-on this services. A huge advantage given the massive fragmentation and slowness of Android upgrades.

Change your GPX data file

A few days ago I went for a ride, around 50km, and had all my Garmin products running – including heart rate monitor and cadence sensor.

The Garmin heart rate monitor started to produce some very weird numbers during my ride. Lets just say that my heart rate has never come close to 263bpm.

I did however want to upload the data to my favourite site, Strava.

This is what I did to amend my data.

Step 1 – upload the ride as per normal

Step 2 – download the GPX file of the activitiy

Step 3 – amend the GPX file

Now that you have done this much, here’s where it will get a little tricky. The GPX file is really a XML file that has all your data inside of it. The file has a lot of data points and doing this manually will be a nightmare. So, this is where you need to be a little crafty with your file. For me, I wanted to remove all the heart rate data from the file – as it was all incorrect.

Here are the commands that I used to remove the lines. Keep in mind that you can do this for any data items inside of the file. This is for a Mac.

Open up terminal and type the following;

sed “/<gpxtpx:hr>.*</gpxtpx:hr>/d” ~/Downloads/Went sightseeing.gpx > tmp.txt

Allow me to break down the command above so that you can use it for yourself. The “/<gpxtpx:hr>.*</gpxtpx:hr>/d” is text that I want to search for, in my case, the heart rate. Next is the location of the file and filename “~/Downloads/Went sightseeing.gpx”. Again, point it to your specific file path and filename.

And now the final command

mv tmp.txt “Went sightseeing.gpx”

That should do it.

A big massive thanks to Mat for getting me sorted with this.