Monday, February 05, 2007

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Rebooting My iPod


Consult technical support before beginning this or any other exercise program


Running may be hazardous to your iPod's health

You might be familiar with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit - this allows you to put a sensor from Apple into your shoes, which can send statistics back to your iPod, tracking things like running speed, total distance, and calories burned. I thought this was a pretty cool idea (especially if you could use something like the MusicIP Mixer to create custom running mixes). But, the shoes from Nike (called "Nike+ ready") cost something like $100, the iPod doesn't support MusicIP, and in all honesty, I'm not much of a runner, so I didn't pay too much attention.

Well, a few weeks ago, I came across ("If loving my iPod is wrong, I don't want to be right"). One of the posts was about a product called the Shoe Pouch, which for 8 bucks (shipping included), lets you strap the sensor on to any pair of shoes with laces. The timing, as they say, was right - I'd just started playing with my Xbox 360 Gamertag (over there to the right), and noticed how encouraging it is to watch those points go up and up. If I could get the same thing from exercising, maybe that would motivate me more (Ooooh - Gamertag points for running would be even cooler, but alas unlikely).

Luckily, I already have a Nano (ordered the day they were announced, scratched like crazy by being stored in a pocket with the headphones), so I placed my orders, and waited for exercise nirvana to show up in my mailbox. The sensor came first, so I set up my Nike account, dropped the sensor into a plastic baggie, and tucked it under my laces to get started. To get the full experience, I downloaded the Ok Go Treadmill workout from iTunes, even though I'll be running outside, and not on a treadmill. My first "run" was for 1.49 miles, in 22 minutes and 26 seconds - in the rain! Not a bad start.

Next, I started exploring the features offered on the Nike site. They were having some issues with bugs around that time, but they got sorted out. I set up two different ways of tracking - first, a goal to do 10 runs in 4 weeks. Second, a challenge to do 100 miles cumulative. The shoe pouch finally arrived, I laced them in, and I was raring to go.

Well.... this wouldn't be much of a story without an adversary so queue the appropriate gloom and doom soundtrack...

After some more testing, my iPod started to freeze up. To get to the point, after some googling I learned how to reboot my iPod for the first time (after many ipods and many years). Here's a cheat sheet if you ever get stuck in the same situation. The price to pay for getting healthy, right?

After that, I went running on the next Saturday to put the system through its paces. Started off to a good pace using a soundtrack by Podrunner. A few minutes in, I got a phone call, so I paused the workout, and took the call. After the call, I started running again. A bit later, I check the workout status - oops! forgot to restart the tracking. Curses, push the button and keep going. A couple minutes later, I check the timer again - stuck, reboot. This workout ain't going so hot. Restart, keep moving. Getting a bit bored of the soundtrack, hit the Power Button to get something peppy. That's more like it - put on some speed. Run, run, run! The song ends, the iPod freezes again. Sigh. Walk back to the car and admit defeat. By the time I'm back, the iPod is magically unfrozen. I unplug the Nike sensor, and my iPod dies. Dies as in the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Won't restart, pops up an error message about needing to be restored.

Back at home, I use iTunes to restore, and I get a dreaded message: "An uknown error occured (1418)". A quick google yielded this unpromising URL: Drat. Time to call Apple, then. What's that? Sorry, your iPod is broken, out of warranty. We can fix it for you for only 250 dollars. Uh right, I say, that's, you know, the price of a new one. Correct, they respond, would you like to place an order? No, I say, I'd like to go back in time and not buy a product which will break my iPod. Sorry, fresh out of time travel passes, later! Grr....

Well - it's true I'd pretty much abandoned the Nano for a long time, and that was the first workout it'd gotten in awhile. Running shouldn't hurt a flash device, but I was determined to try and exercise, so I bit the bullet, and ordered a nice new black 8GB Nano - at least this gave me an excuse to update the branding I always place on the back (the old one is on the left, the new one is on the right). And if it goes belly up again, it'll be under warranty and I can hopefully get it dealt with.

Another week gone towards my goal of 10 runs in 4 weeks, though, not to mention my best run to date having no data.

Does this story have a conclusion? Not yet - I started writing this in the morning, and went out for a run while it was still in the editor. About a mile in, I check the Nano, and it says I've gone .2 miles. Arg! No clue why it stopped tracking the pace properly, but near the end it seems to have unstuck and started working again. The uploaded data is completely borked except for the last bit - bogus speeds, distance, the works. Since then, it mostly works, but I still have to reboot my iPod every now and then.

Maybe it's time to look at getting a Garmin Forerunner

At the time I wrote this, my official (incomplete) total was 5.9 miles, and I had a Gamerscore of 1795 - that's 304 gamerscores per mile or gpm. If you notice a gpm number in future posts, that's what I'm referring to.

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