Running quote of the week

“I love track running. There’s something about that red 400-meter circle that lets my brain switch off—no roads to cross, no bikes to watch out for.” – Kate Carter

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Luddite technologist rant

I am feeling very grumpy about technology today and I felt I needed to do something so I deactivated a Facebook account I'd created some months back. Nothing personal about Facebook, as a technology it's been fine and if I'm ever reincarnated as a 19 year old female, alcoholic, exhibitionist, college student I'll reconsider joining. But like I said, I'm grumpy. I never check the site or contribute to it. At least once a week I received invites from people (many of whom I actually like) but finally decided that accepting them was disingenuous because I'll never check the site. I have an Emerging Runner Fan page that (ironically) I can no longer access. I wonder what will happen with that. Thanks to everyone who fanned it. Sorry to disappoint!

The reason I'm grumpy about technology is that it often doesn't work like it should. I'm not talking about technology that we depend upon daily like elevators and traffic lights, I'm talking about running technologies. Especially those that run on my iPhone. I love my iPhone. It's much more fun than my Blackberry that I gave up with some real misgivings. But when compared to the Blackberry as a business tool it's not very fun at all. Okay, I'll accept that as long as it still does the job. It's annoying to switch from Verizon to AT&T, I liken it to taking a step back in time to the mid 1990's when getting a usable signal on your phone was an unexpected surprise. I've put some GPS apps on the iPhone to help track my running metrics and so far I am not impressed. MotionX GPS, that I paid for ($2.99), has great features (lots of data elements captured: photo utility, interactive maps, iPod integration, etc.) but I'm at about 50% in terms of successful outcome when using it. The other apps I've tried, iMapMyRun and RunKeeper Free, have less capabilities (they're both free) but clever enough. I just bought AllSportsGPS (the company gave me a promo code for a comp version but I managed to screw that up (technology!). I'll see how it works. For $10 I'm expecting a lot.

The performance of these GPS utilities is often undermined by the inherent inaccuracy of public GPS. Despite its potential for getting to an inch of your location it misses greatly and often. If you have to remap on Google Earth every time you use these apps what's the point? I'll try the AllSport app on Friday and see how it performs. So many other running technologies have disappointed. AG tried to use the Qstarz on a 6 mile run recently and it failed to capture any data. What's annoying about that is there's no way to tell with that unit if it's working or not. The original running technology that I used, the Nike+ Sportband, failed so often that I needed to replace it three times before I returned it and bought my Garmin 50.

In truth the Garmin 50 has been a great technology and I won't disparage it although it does consume batteries and each time they are replaced calibration gets out of whack. Running technologies don't all run on batteries either and I'll give due credit to Nike, Adidas and other clothing makers who have perfected the art of sweat wicking technology. But for today I'm just a bit grumpy.

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