Friday, April 20, 2012

Replacement IPod Nano

I got this replacement iPod Nano from my local Apple Store today.

Earlier this week, my iPod Nano (6th generation), see picture below, stopped holding a charge. The symptom was that I'd charge it up and the charge would drain quickly. Then when I went to use it at the gym, I'd be frustrated since there'd be no battery left.

When I got to the Apple Store, they said it was out of warranty. I've had it since September 2010. Also, the battery is not user-replaceable: no good taking it to Batteries Plus.

The lithium-ion batteries used in these iDevices have a limited number of charges. Then they essentially become disposable. I'm not sure if that's the case with my particular Nano, or perhaps the battery shorted out during one of my workouts. In any case, a new 8GB Nano runs $129. They offered to replace mine for $59. (Plus tax.) See the so-called "repair" invoice below.

It's a big relief to not have to shell out full price for a new one. Still, it seems a shame that device won't be fixed. Even though these things retail for more than $100, it costs more to take them apart and replace the battery than to toss out.

Note not all iPod Nano "repairs" cost the same. The Apple Genius told me that if the screen was cracked, it'd be $99, nearly the price of a new one. The repair is the same, i.e. a replacement device, but the cost is different if that makes sense to you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stiga Rosewood NCT V, SuperCPen S style

I have a new table tennis blade. It's a Stiga Rosewood NCT V. Xu Xin (許昕) is the superstar who uses this blade. However, mine is customized for me by Dai Feng of San Diego (Mr. SuperCPen) in size small (for my smaller hands) from the original shakehands blade. Weight (without rubber) is 80g.


I've only played with it once. Compared to my 77g Butterfly Innerforce ZLC-based SuperCPen S, this is a slightly heavier but slower blade with better control. I've been able to adapt to the new paddle almost immediately. However, my loops are significantly weaker.

I've been having some wrist problems lately, so I've attempted here to minimize the total weight of the paddle. Shown on the scale here at 154g with Butterfly Tenergy 05 for the forehand:

I've experimented with cutting away as much unnecessary rubber as possible. As a result the red Tenergy 05FX barely covers more than 60% of the backhand side:

The paddle handle itself is hollow and rather delicate. I've already cracked it.

Workmanship is not quite as good as the Butterfly blades. Dai Feng remarked on this when taking the handle apart. An earlier version I sent him showed rather poor construction. Despite being made in Sweden, it was defective manufacturing. The plys came apart. Dai was able to slide a piece of paper inbetween:

However, it's considerably cheaper than Butterfly pricing.

20 runs, 20 days

I'm in the gym, getting set for another run indoors on that uncompromising device, the Woodway treadmill... thinking of the end product, that beautiful, effortless run outside under sunny skies.

Sand separates the sea
From me on my desert island

Sun obliterates the sky
And I, I'm just like anyone
No matter how I try
I wanna see the sun.

And it shines
To illuminate the distance
Illustrate the difference
Between you and me

At the beginning of April, I vowed to run every day at a set minimum pace for at least 40 days in a row. I managed to get a small streak going. 20 days in a row so far. I'm halfway there.

Like any other exercise program, there have been easy days and hard days. The minimal standard is 15 mins at 7.0 mph enforced by the treadmill. The standard is raised to 20 mins at 7.0 mph as the days passed. The treadmills at the gym are made by Woodway, with claimed accuracy to 1/10 mph.

On some days, particularly if I rested well the night before, the standard is easy to meet. The running form is good and the minutes just fly past. For example, day 20 in the charts below, I ran for 45 mins and didn't feel tired. (In fact, I only stopped before 60 mins because my iPod Nano on my waistband flooded with sweat and stopped recording.) However, the point is not to run to exhaustion, but have enough leftover to continue the streak tomorrow.

And so it is the hard days that threaten and define the streak. Some days are difficult because of inadequate rest (sleep). Sometimes the legs are tired right from the start. Then meeting the minimal standard takes a lot of stubbornness and willpower to keep the streak going. I can tell you day 17 where I just managed 18 minutes felt way harder than 45 minutes on day 20.

Here are the statistics. 103 km in 20 days. Total time is 8 hours and 54 minutes. Burned 8429 kcal. Average pace 5:11 mins/km.

With respect to pacing, I leave the treadmill at 7.0 mph (11.2 km/hr). This corresponds to a 5:20 min/km pace. If I feel like testing my legs a bit, I will add on 3 mins at the end at 7.5 mph (12.0 km/hr or 4:58 min/km pace). On the charts below, the bars in green are not on the treadmill. These are outside runs. Interestingly my natural outdoor speed (a bit under 5:00 min/km) is faster than my set treadmill speed (which feels hard enough to me).

On day 1, I ran for just 15 mins at 7.0 mph and it felt quite hard. By day 20, I ran for 45 mins at 7.0 mph and I felt I could do more. Starting on day 21, I will increase the baseline speed to 7.5 mph. This puts additional physiological and psychological pressure on the streak but sooner or later, I've got to man up (HTFU) or stagnate.

Here are the runs. Distances: day 1 through 10.

Distances: day 11 through 20.

Time spent, day 1 through 10. (Note that even a 15 minute run effectively takes an hour out of one's schedule. Walk to the gym. Change. 5 mins warm-up at 3.0 mph. 15 mins run at speed. 5 mins cool down at 3.0 mph. 10 mins stretching. Shower. Walk back to work. It all adds up.)

Time spent, day 11 through 20.

Here is the recorded accuracy of the iPod Nano 6g's internal accelerometer:

Different running surfaces affect the accuracy. On average, it's about 10% optimistic. All distances reported in the charts above have been individually corrected (assuming Woodway's claim of 1/10mph accuracy, and outdoor run distances are verified using Google Earth).

Monday, April 2, 2012

7 mornings, 7 runs

Waking up early every morning without the ability to fall asleep again can be both a blessing and a curse. Perhaps there's something amiss in my sleep schedule, but looking on the positive side, I've decided to grab the opportunity of early mornings to run rather than to try futilely get back to sleep.

Last 7 mornings, I've gotten up and run. I don't know how long this streak will last, but now that I've begun it, I'm tentatively hoping and aiming for 40 days in a row. (Incidentally, I've never tried something like this before.)

I believe the key to a streak is to run a little bit each day but not overdo it to the extent I'll be fatigued for next morning's run.

To this end, I either run on a treadmill for 15-30 minutes at a baseline speed of 7.0 mph, or run along a rather gorgeous, out-and-back, car-free path along a (usually) dry river bed shown in red below: This is the Cañada del Oro Linear Park. The Oro Valley town's section cost of $2.5 million ($2 million bond, $0.5 million federal funds). Each direction is 2.73 miles (4.39 km). Does not cross any roads (utilizes underpasses). Does not run alongside any road. Runs alongside the Cañada del Oro wash. I run the outbound leg in one go. And then run and walk the return path.

If your browser supports it, i.e. you have the Google Earth plug-in installed (, here is the 1 minute 3D flyover video (rendered by Google Earth via
(It sometimes doesn't work on my Safari browser, but when it works it is beautifully smooth and looks like a real flyover. Note: Firefox seems to work fine.) Direct link to MapMyRun (renders in a full window): here
Youtube video (via Quicktime Movie Screen record, jerky video due to lack of CPU power on my Macbook Pro, both cores were pegged during screen record): here

Here are the runs graphing time and pace. Treadmill runs are in blue, the riverside path runs in green, and pace in orange (shorter is faster). Note my first two runs were only 15 minute in length. In reality, that's an hour each at the gym. Basically, 15 mins run + 5 mins warm-up at 3.0 mph + 5 mins cool-down at 3.0 mph + 10 min stretching afterwards + change and shower. Also note that my outdoor runs tended to be at a faster pace than on the treadmill.

Total distance in this week has been 40.54 km in 3:23:36 (hr:mm:ss) for an average workout pace of 5:01 min/km. A somewhat humble beginning for a streak but let's see how it develops. On the bright side, I've manage to lose a kilogram.