American Football: A little history before the big game

Heading into Superbowl weekend Radiolab put out an interesting podcast all about American football.  I might be in the minority but I knew very little about the origination of the game and it was great to learn a little about it.  The stories about "Pop" Warner stretching the rules reminded me a little bit about the Patriots and the recent "gamesmanship" vs. cheating and the Deflategate scandal.   

If you have some time check out the podcast with the link below.   It brings a little light to how the most popular game in America started.

Anonymous Apps - What are you good for?

I was enjoying my long commute into the office a few weeks ago and was listening to the podcast Reply All from Gimlet Media.  These shows are typically pretty funny, quick stories about something on the internet.  This particular episode wasn't very funny.  It was all about these new Anonymous Apps like YikYak and one particular story about how this app was used at Colgate University to harass and threaten many minority students.

The story was pretty upsetting for a few reasons.  The first being obvious and not understanding where all this hate comes from in people, and why on earth they think it is okay to blurt it out to the world.  The second part was anger towards applications like YikYak and the many other similar apps out there that create a channel for this type of noise.  Before these apps existed people would need to physically say things to people which is difficult on its own, and even more difficult if you want to say mean terrible things.  These apps open that up so things can be said without any effort.  Even worse these apps allow other people to vote up these terrible comments.

This old Louis C.K. video does a good job of explaining this whole being mean to people being easier over texting.  Posting anonymously makes that even easier.

I searched around the internet trying to find someone explaining a possible positive usage for an an application that allows anonymous posting.  The closest I found was in countries with less freedom of speech and possible fear of being jailed for talking, but in the U.S.A.  there seems to be little to no reason to use an app like this.

It is easy to do the opposite search and find many articles about misuse of this type of app.  High school bullying forced some of these apps to add a feature to block the usage in and around the actual school.  That seems like a great thing for a high school to have to deal with on top of all the other things they need to worry about.

A few questions I have that I don't think I can ever get a grasp on:

  1. What did the founders of these types of companies think they were creating?  Did they realize the users they were targeting? Maybe it was: "Kid's are bullying on Facebook and getting in trouble, we really need to solve that problem by letting them bully anonymously!"
  2. What were the investors in these companies thinking?

I had that rant building in me for a few weeks now.  It felt good to get it out!

Invisibilia - Dark Thoughts

A brand new podcast / NPR radio show was a couple weeks ago called Invisibilia.  The first topic was called "Dark Thoughts" and it covers a man who watches a violent movie which triggers a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  They talk about different therapy approaches and cover both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy.  My wife is a social worker whose practice ( specializes in both of those therapies for children and adolescents so it was really interesting to hear how successful and popular these approaches are getting.

Here is a link.  It starts out very dark but bear with it, its gets very interesting:

Review: Suunto Ambit 3

I recently made the switch to a Suunto Ambit 3 from my existing Garmin products (Garmin Swim & Garmin 405CX).  I was looking to move to a single watch that I could use for all my my activities including pool swimming, open water swimming, running and cycling.  My coworkers suggested the watch and I went with it.  

There are a few very thorough reviews out there so no need for me to go into that level of detail.  Here are links to a few great reviews.

Here are some points that are important to me.

How does the watch compare to the Garmin Swim:

The Garmin Swim is a great watch and I used it regularly for over a year.  The Ambit 3 tracks my swims just as well, but also supports open water swimming.  I have not had an opportunity to try it out yet but that was a big upgrade once the weather gets better and for use during races.  One drawback with the Ambit is that it does not support a drill mode like the Garmin does.  I believe the newer Garmin watches including the recently released Fenix 3 and 920XT both support drill mode.  The limitation to pool use only was a bit of a pain at times with the Garmin as I would sometimes forget the watch when I was heading the the pool.

*Update:  The watch does support drill mode.  You hold the center button and go into options, and this allows you to manually add lengths and track drills.  

How does it compare with the 405CX for running:

My biggest complaint with the 405CX was the amount of time it took to catch satellite location.  It could take minutes and the progress bar would start back over.  There were also times where it would say it had reception but would show the start of my run out in the middle of the water and then my statistics would be all over the place.  The Ambit 3 gets its location almost instantly and has options for how accurate you would like it to be during the run.  Obviously the more accurate the more battery usage.  

How does Movescount compare to Garmin Connect:

Here lies my biggest concern with the switch.  I like a lot of the features of Movescount including the bluetooth synchronization between the watch and my phone so there are no more USB sticks needed to get my data up to the cloud.  The Movescount website is limited in many ways that really bother me though:

  1. Limited Export Ability - Non-GPS activities can only be exported as cvs or fit files which are not useful at all when trying to get the data into other 3rd party tools.  
  2. No Import Ability - The website does not offer any way to bring in data from other tools.  For example I use TrainerRoad for my cycling training but cannot import the .tcx files.  I have to upload to Garmin and use another tool to force them into Movescount.
  3. Closed API - They offer a web api for developers to access their data, but do not appear to give keys out to anyone.  
  4. Reliability - During the short time I have been using the site there have been at least 2 website outages.  One was over the holidays and lasted 4 days.  The good news is since that outage everything has been very stable, but its only been 3 weeks.

Overall Rating:

The watch has been great.  From a hardware perspective it is a big jump up from the Garmin watches I have had in the past.  The Garmin Swim was good quality but my Forerunners have not been impressive.  The software issues are there but I am living with it and am getting used to the new interface.  If they an keep the website running and add some more features I think this move will eventually be for the better.