Saturday, August 31, 2019

Transferring the .GPX Route Course to my Garmin

Somebody asked me how you would use a .gpx track file for a forthcoming race on their Garmin GPS watch so I thought I would write up the process.

The technique assumes you have an Android Smartphone and that your Smartphone has access to the emails sent on your PC / MAC.

This process also assumes you have Garmin Connect installed on your Smartphone and your Garmin Watch is already registered as a device and that the syncing from the Phone to the Watch over Bluetooth works and you know how to do that.

01 Send Yourself or Friend an Email

On your PC/ MAC workstation get the .gpx file and send it to yourself or a friend

If you really are away from your PC then by all means do this step on your phone.  In other words you receive an email with the .gpx from a friend or you surf a website and download a .gpx to your phone directly.  

02 Locate .gpx file on Android Smartphone

 Goto sent emails on your Smartphone and find the email that you sent and click on the .gpx file

Or in the case where you did everything from your Smartphone, then in the Browser (Chrome for me) I goto the downloads section and click on that recently downloaded file ending in .gpx

This will open a list of suggested applications.  You need Connect i.e. Garmin Connect

I click on connect, then Always.  Thus next time you go thru this process and click on the .gpx file on your smartphone, Connect will load automatically

03 Establish Course on Smartphone

The Garmin connect app now ask you to categorise the course

And now it is imported

 And now it appears on the list of courses known

 On the Smartphone App I rename it

04 Transfer to Smartphone

 Now send to the device you need.

 So I select my Watch Forerunner 945

And now it is syncing from the Phone to the Watch

05 Course on the Watch

Everything is now ready on the watch, but let us check:

On a modern Garmin I go into the activity, in this case Run.  I don't press the top right start button.  Instead I press the left middle button to bring up options and scroll down to Navigation, then Enter (top right)

Courses then Enter

So Great the course is there.

So Do the course, the course is loaded and then you are back to the Start Activity screen and when you press the Start top right button your Run will start with this course loaded.  So during the run (for example) you can see your progress on the Map screen.  And if the downloaded .GPX file had directions they will also popup on the watch screen to.

Happier: In Your Eyes

In Your Eyes 1993

Sometimes we all need a Weekend or simply Life, Pick Me Up.

And here is my choice for today.


In Your Eyes 2014

Review: Garmin Edge 530 Cycling Computer

Garmin 530 Review DCR

First,  I can't hope to better the above video or in depth text  review  from DC Rainmaker of the Garmin 530 Cycling computer. 

But the focus of this positive review is to emphasise that if you are a moderately serious cyclist then I'd like to know why you don't own this or a similar unit.   Because ... they are just incredible.

Very Late to the Party

Having cycled for over 30 years and often more than 10K km yearly, until now I have been resolute that I did not need a cycling computer.

All that changed with my recent Garmin 130 which was bought as a test.  It culminated in one of those embarrassing: why have I been farting around with Smartphones mounted to my handlebars, or using high end Garmin watches moments.

So after 4 months of Garmin 530 ownership here are some of the highlights of 530 ownership.

= Garmin have 2 ranges of cycle computer and this falls into the performance (not touring range).   To me primarily this means support of Powermeters

+ The big advantage of the 530 over my 130 is Colour and a larger screen.  Colour makes a huge positive difference

= The doppelganger model to the 530 is the 830 which has a touch screen and is quite a big more expensive

= The 530 and 830 models replace the 520 and 820.   Really the new models offer so much more don't be tempted to get the earlier models on big discount.

= In the Garmin hierarchy the 530 comes in at  260 GBP compared to the top of the line Garmin Edge 1030 which is 430 GBP

+ The unit has a basemap so that if you go off course it can re-route you to your destination.

Our normal method of operation is to use Garmin Connect to draw a course, send it to the unit, and then cycle the course.   You do that by getting the weblink for the course, then on your smartphone starting Gaming Connect App, then in a Browser window clicking the course link.  This jumps to Connect App on the phone and allows you to send the course to the Edge.  The Phone App then sends the course via Bluetooth to the Edge 530.

-- However I try, in the UK is re-routing occurs the damn unit takes me off road.  I can't stop it!  I tell it to use a Road Navigation, but it often sends me down a grassy path.  In Switzerland where the farm tracks are concrete it works perfectly!

-- The second stellar huge issue is the GUI interface.  Since this is the 530 and not the 830 you have buttons and no touch screen.  The interface is so bad I want Garmin to get the 130 software designer the chance to completely re-write this units GUI and button operation.  To me, awful.

+ The screens and number of are so configurable as to be a joy

One or more screens are available with different metrics that you can choose from including power as shown here.  I use the heart rage exported from my Garmin Watch.  No Heart rate belt is required.

 As you can see some of the fields can be graphical and in colour

+ As DCR indicated when cycling to a route it will figure out hilly sections so you can get ready and then cycle the hill sensibly.  No more getting round a corner to find unexpected more hill, or a change in gradient.  You can see it all in advance.

+ As with all Garmin units it has a Garmin mount, and you can mount it ahead of the handlebars using the bar mount, or I put one on my triathlon bars instead.

+ The specs are here and of course the 830 has a touch screen and the 1030 is slightly superior, but think of the 260 GBP price.   It's very competitive

+ Firmware updates continue and lately my eTap gearchangers suddenly became visible, within the last month.  So now I changed my master front cycling screen to include my rear derailleur position.  Fantastic!

Very Happy

As I am here, I really recommend this unit to all I cycle with.  If we go cycling and you don't have a cycling computer you will get the full 15 minute lecture.  It is that brilliant.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Trip Efficiency Index

Score: At least 9 out of 10   (90%)

Marcus and Agata are now back in England after a month away in Switzerland.  Now that we have unpacked, refiled, calmed down, I have time to reflect on how well our preparations were for the trip.

I give it a TEI (Trip Efficiency Index) of at least 0.9 on the scale of 0.0 to 1.0

Setting The Scene
We knew that we would be away from England for several weeks.  I of course took a labelling machine.  Not only that but I took a spare labelling cartridge, and I used that too.  (Smug mode on!)

Yes we really did consider just about flippin everything I can tell you.

Marcus and Agata are in the position that we could spend months of our year away from our English home. We'd like to do this, but at the same time necessarily spend as little money as some of our friends who just go on a single 2 week holiday.

How is that Possible?

The key tactic we use, especially when travelling for extended periods in expensive countries like Switzerland is to make sure we consider all expenses in advance

- Consider all expenses in advance

- Book well in advance

- Take stuff with you, that is unobtainable or ludicrously priced at our destination

- Try to aim for no surprise, out of line expenses

The Trip Efficiency Index  (TEI)
Is our metric of how well we prepared and reacted to circumstances and situations whilst away from our Home Base.

You may not need a TEI. If you ...

a) Have infinite or almost infinite fund$$

b) If you really don't mind spending sh**loads of money  for goods you had to purchase on holiday,  because although you have those things at home, you never thought to bring them

c) You can just not be bothered to plan, spending money on Holiday is just part of the process.  Meh

d) You always goto the same place every year,  there are no surprises,  by now on your nth year you know exactly what to take   (effectively you have  TEI approaching 1.0 already)

e) You always book an all expenses paid, all provided for holiday.  There will be no out of line expenses, because your holiday has them all built in.  In fact you will probably eat and drink as much as you can, continuously, for the duration, in order to get better holiday value.

Let's Do some Checking

+ I had to pack all the specialist clothing necessary for pool and lake swimming, road cycling and running.  Road and Trail running.

And backups should anything wear out.  Above you see an important swimming top giving up the ghost.  I had a backup, of course.

+ Cosmetics and Pharmacy are beyond expensive in Switzerland.  We brought everything including the shampoo

+ Items like Hot and Cold Gel are better in Switzerland than in the UK. They should be, at over 300% the cost  (I dont mean +30% more, I mean 300% the cost!).  We brought our Tesco equivalents.

 + We brought with us some sophisticated Internet Routers and Firewalls.   Actually they are available in Switzerland at decent prices, but we had them in England, so why buy them again.

 - Our first location was without convincing office space so I considered the options and had to emergency buy some office furniture from IKEA.  Now stored in a Swiss basement for our return, so my investment is not lost!

 - Whilst we did bring Cycle specific tools in the Motorhome and others including a Leatherman I needed more, meaning a 8GBP FIXA purchase.  Okay it's now a resident toolset in the Motorhome should I ever need it again.

+ It was a big YES to bringing all the necessary specialist sports clothing.  Above you see that Marcus has his best Salomon Trail shoes (for Dry weather) on as befitted the race that we entered.

We also brought specialist cycling clothing and swimming.  With enough backups to cope with any accidents.  Worked absolutely brilliantly

 + Having our Road Race bicycles in Switzerland was an absolute delight.  Those pristine smooth roads, hedge free landscapes, that dry, low moisture, hot temperature weather.   No Potholes, not even on farm tracks.

 + We chose to take a lot of Cycling Equipment and spares.  We actually used 1 new Tyre and 2 new Inner Tubes.  I almost get into a cold sweat thinking what the Swiss prices would have been, assuming we'd have found a shop that sold what we needed. 

The equipment also included front and rear lights x 2 + spares + charger, and eTap Batteries and spares and charger.  And an avalanche of cycle specific tools such as tyre levers, cassette tools, chain tool, specific pedal spanners.

We even brought, and needed, spare handlebar end caps.

Again, smug mode was on.

 + We took multiple sets of wireless headphones, each.  We would spend hours exercising each day, and music or listening to audio books as we worked out, or ventured out with animals was a must.

We took important impossible to obtain foods to Switzerland to make our lives more comfortable.  I mean including Marmite,  Twining Earl Gray, and Super Seeded Oat Cakes.

All worked out brilliantly.

On our recent extended trip out of the UK we successfully considered what we would need to take to live in a high cost country like Switzerland at minimum cost and maximum comfort.

We took spare handlebar caps for our bicycle.  And used them!

We took spare tyre and inner tubes for the bicycles.  And used them.

We even took a labelling machine and spare labels. And used them!

The minor misfire was the need to setup a temporary office, and the dash to IKEA to spend <= 100 CHF on stuff, less than I might add a tank of Diesel fuel, so trivial in the scheme of things.

We give ourselves 0.9 on the TEI.  

Rather pleased.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Coup de Twat

There is a strong school of thought that although Boris Johnson, new Prime Minister of the UK, rarely comes out with coherent sentences, or concrete proposals, he is in fact a genius whose unconventional tactics can somehow be the means to an end whereby the UK will leave with a superior BREXIT deal to the one that Theresa May took 2 years to negotiate with the EU.

I think it is certainly true that the whole world has seen how the unconventional behaviour of he who shall not be named has been quite effective.  Under the pretence of a National Emergency and the Executive Order,  the USA has performed a set of actions that all have seen as provocative, single minded, un-cooperative, and many regard as unconstitutional.

And now, using a Parliamentary device, Boris Johnson has suspended parliament before the BREXIT deadline thus reducing the available debating space for UK Members of Parliament to form a consensus to oppose his No Deal BREXIT.

If you study and believe the words of Johnson you would be forgiven for thinking the prorogation was anything to do with BREXIT

The speaker of the house of commons John Bercow however said:

Responding to news that Mr Johnson will shut down Parliament weeks before the Brexit deadline, John Bercow said: "However it is dressed up it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty."

This video link refers

I'm writing this article primarily for Swiss and other friends outside of the UK.

- Even if you could think that the End (pushing the EU into better  Deal for the UK) justifies the means  (Boris behaving like a dictator (or choose your own words) )

You have to ask how this taints the new office and calibre of the Prime Minister and UK government, forever.

- This action has outraged the Public and Political many who will vow never to forgive him

- Are these actions actually genius or the work of an idiot with a lack of comprehension?

I'd draw your attention to the film Being There with Peter Sellers.  In that film the simpleton Chance, an actual gardener with little brains is thought to be a quietly spoken Economic genius.

I am of the opinion that off kilter behaviour is the sign of a Twat unless proven otherwise.  Non English speakers please check the definition here

Somebody using tactics and loopholes to defeat centuries of established political protocol and democracy should not be viewed as a hero in any continent.

One thing I start to predict now.   BREXIT handled in this way will encourage the flight of Capital and International Business away from the UK, and with that our best and brightest people too.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review: Amazon Echo Show 5

This is a short positive review of the Amazon Echo Show 5.  I'm going to argue that if you are a user and fan of the existing Amazon Echo Dot, you should, funds permitting move up to this device, based on its increased capabilities.

That Amazon Thing
Marcus and Agata now live in England, which I like to call a premiere Amazon territory.  At a base level Amazon Prime membership allows for 24 hour delivery of Amazon's product range, at very economical prices.

But it also allows you to spend small to invest in these Alexa skilled helper devices as well as Home Automation and Security linked devices.  A good example is the Neos camera I recommended.

Other Territories
If you were to drag me back to my old home in Switzerland today where Amazon does not have full country support, can I still use the Echo 5?  Well yes, the assistant would still work, but personally I'd probably relocate my home, to be seen as in the UK using a service called StreamVia.  I talked about setting up a custom VPN Streamvia server here, but you could use a simpler system with their Smartstream product and technology too.

Some Facilities

 - Pre-configured
Not sure how, but it came preconfigured for me.  I was a bit gobsmacked, then paranoid (how did they do that), then, er okay then!

 - You can display on your homescreen a favourite photo or have it go thru an Amazon Photos album.   There are a few designs and mine includes the time and temperature and date

 - Alexa 'play the Archers'

So even this is superior to the Dot's response.  I know it's just a bitmap and the date, but yes, it all adds up

 - Alexa 'play the news'

I get a video news summary not just an audio only one that the Dot provides.  I just love it!

- For the deeply paranoid there is the ability to physically cover up the camera.  There are also buttons 

A Dot Plus Video

It's not just a Dot with a screen.   Besides the video calling and other video specific facilities, every time you ask Alexa a question it can give you a combined  audio and visual reply.  So superior to the Dot, I just love asking it questions, and bask in the improved reply 

Not Google Home
Amazon is to marcus the defacto force in Home Automation, as compared to any alternative such as Google Home or Apple Homekit.

But even if we disregard that monster advantage, this Show 5 has a camera and a microphone, something the Google products declared too risky.  I mean , well that was just idiotic, but hands the advantage totally to the Show 5.

Other stuff

- Headphone Jack on the Back

- Micro USB port but nobody knows what it does  (I tried a USB Ethernet adapter which apparently works on the larger Show device, but did not work here)

- Comes with a Country specific Power adapter

- Bluetooth to a Speaker and 

- Use this as a Bluetooth Speaker from a Smartphone  (but I could not get that working)

You Convinced Me
At the time of writing the Echo Show 5 was 70 GBP.  That is just 35 GBP more than the Echo Dot.  To Marcus it's an amazing deal.

If I was an existing Echo Dot owner then if I needed an additional device the Show5 would be the natural step-up choice.

Alternatively if you read this and have the money, then hey it is just a 70 GBP experiment, so rich people, trust me, please just order one.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Bonjour England

Someone You Loved

Yes,  Marcus and Agata,  are back home today in England.  Well 02.00.  I think that counts right?

Today is a day for the mundane  (washing), the admin  (filing),  and the reflections upon our latest fantastic adventure.

Something that we could never manage without each other, our meticulous planning, and the kind words and actions of friends worldwide.

Older Reflections
I do recall a time, let me say decades ago, when either one of us would finish an adventure and then go right to work that following morning.

But we are older and wiser now.  And hopefully, not that much slower.

We deserve an acclimatisation day back at home.  And this very much includes taking stock of our greatest fortune in life.  

Of course this is: each other.

See Also

Monday, August 26, 2019

Sombre Monday

If Not Now

Marcus and Agata are on the road again.  Actually a little earlier than expected.

The month of August in Switzerland has indeed been a memorable one.

to be updated later :-)