Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home, Sweet New Home

Throughout the last 7 years or so, I've been living in a small apartment approx. 40 minutes by feet from downtown Linz. Several months ago, I was fortunate enough to find a more spacious replacement right in downtown Linz, only minutes away from (almost) everything you can think of. Additionally, it's situated next to a gas station that's open for business on a 24/7 basis, a rare comfort in European countries. So, should my supply of Red Bull (I can't help myself) come to an end at 4:46am in the course of a programming spree, I can resort to my backup next door :)

After two weeks of moving essentials and most other things, it's finally done. I'm positive that my new home will give me a a general boost, definitely so. It might also help me to establish a routine morning run before work, a nice 6 km waterside course only meters away is waiting to be challenged...

The living room is not ready yet. Nonetheless, being a technology enthusiast, indispensable subtle technology references are already in place ;)

P.S.: The UNIX license plate can be obtained from The Open Group online store. I once owned a Digital UNIX / Compaq Tru64 UNIX plate, an adaption of the original. At that time I was an Alpha / Tru64 advocate and user. As always, nothing can replace the original...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cisco VPN Client on Leopard 10.5.2

Just a quick note for those of you struggling with Cisco's VPN client on Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5.2. My initial attempt was based on client version The result was the following error message indicating that no active network interfaces are available:

Error 51: Unable to communicate with the VPN subsystem.
Please make sure that you have at least one network interface that is currently active and has an IP address and start this application again.

Needless to say, that was a false statement. So I updated to, that didn't fix the issue. What fixed it was a minor upgrade to build 100, version, the VPN connection has become fully functional from there.

The essence is: With Leopard 10.5.2, use

How do you share your runs? Do you?

I don't. My current solution for logging runs is a Windows-based software called SportsTracks. It supports the basic set of per-workout metadata as well as input from devices such as a heart rate monitor or GPS receiver. I use Garmin's Forerunner 305 to record workaround duration, distance, heart rate and course, the import works like a charm. Additionally, SportsTracks provides you with an extensive toolkit for analyzing individual workouts by means of statistics and interactive charts, and generating reports covering multiple workouts. What I love about workouts is the logging ritual. Logging a new run after a hard workout and browsing through the data that was silently recorded throughout the last minutes or more likely hours, that's something I really enjoy. I'm obsessed with my distance totals too ;) That left aside this facility serves as kind of a virtual trainer that can actually provide objective feedback...

I have two problems with my current solution. One, SportsTracks is Windows-based and will probably never run on Linux or Mac OS X. My current system runs on Mac OS X, so I have to fall back to a Windows system to import my new workouts and analyze my progress. SportsTracks used .NET, thus, the chances of a Linux or Mac OS X version are practically non-existent. I don't want to go the virtual machine route, not for one application.

Two, and more importantly, there's no easy way to share all data of my past runs via the internet. Yes, I know - not true. What you can do is export maps and workout data as HTML, an automatic upload via FTP can be triggered as well. Right, my idea of sharing my runs though is to provide visitors with an experience that is similar to SportsTracks. For example, with every new run, I can easily check new distance totals in SportsTracks. In the case of per-workout exports, these totals are not available. Another aspect is interactivity with tables and charts, static images are of course limited to a single view of data.

I guess, I'm looking for some kind of service that provides runners with an easy way of sharing workout data and visitors with a clean yet feature-rich interface for browsing through the shared data. Nike+ provides a nice interface that goes into the right direction. Understandably, it only supports Nike+ input (which is why I had to manually migrate run-by-run from Nike+ to SportsTracks when I switched to the Forerunner :/ ). It fails in respect to sharing though, there's no way I know of to share all runs as opposed to a single selected run.

So, my fellow runners: How do you share your runs? Do you share them at all?