Yet another step up the provider ladder

New Cloud Provider

I have already documented my adventures in getting the service behind ConnectStats to keep up with the users increase.

I have now yet again upgraded my provider. I was using GoDaddy Enhance plan and have just migrated my server to Digital Ocean.

The previous service was having regular glitches, was slow to process data from Garmin and limited option and flexibility for upgrades. It was time to change.

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Moving weather data from DarkSky to Visual Crossing

ConnectStats history with the weather had a few chapter. First, I started to get the data from the Garmin Website so I could display the condition, the temperature and mostly the wind direction and speed in the map, which is always a good visual clue of how the wind helped or hurt in an activity.

When Garmin stopped publishing its weather data in the API, ConnectStats ended up without the weather for a while. Until Garmin opened its new API which required me to implement my own server, and indirectly made it easier to query the weather to display in an activity.

In March, Apple announced it was purchasing DarkSky and as a consequence it was going to shut down the API access to third party developer by next summer. So it was time to look for a new API. I will move the app to use Visual Crossing.

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A Hilly Summer App Update

I live and do most of my running in London, where it can be quite hard to find any type of hills and the elevation gain field from my activities is never the most relevant.

This summer I managed to escape London twice. The first week when the UK lifted travel restrictions and quarantine early July, I went to the mountains of the Valais in Switzerland and the last week before the quarantine was restored, I went to south france, 30 kilometres in land from Nice, where the Alps ease into the sea. So I got my share of opportunity for testing how to slice and dice elevation gain in ConnectStats.

To keep motivated, I also took a few Strava Challenges, including the august climbing challenge of running at least 2,000m of elevation. It became clear that ConnectStats required a few enhancement to properly track my progress on elevation gain…

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New Garmin Issue affecting ConnectStats

At the moment ConnectStats is not working properly when using the Garmin Data from the ConnectStats Servers. I’ll explain the issue, but there is a temporary work around

Workaround

UPDATE: I have a new version pending approval from Apple that will work without the work around. With version 6.2.1, if you have “all” as a source, the app will automatically go to the web site if the ConnectStats Server didn’t receive data from the Garmin Health API.

Update as of August 6th the issue with the garmin api is resolved. So no need for the work around and using all as data source should be fine.

I you are having ConnectStats not display an activity or statistics or hanging you need to

  • Select the last good activity you have in your list (does not have to be the last one but a known good one)
  • Go to Config, Profile and select “Delete Some Activities”. This will delete all the activities from the app up to the one you have selected. It will not delete anything on any server, only in the app local files.
  • Go to Config, Services, Garmin and select for Source “Garmin WebSite”
  • Close the app fully (may not be necessary, but to ensure there are nothing in the memory cache)
  • Restart the app and try to download activities again.

When thing works again, you should be able to revert source to “all”, but monitor here or on twitter for message that it’s fixed

What is the issue

Since early today, the Garmin API is sending error instead of the activities files to the ConnectStats server. As a result the app is trying to go the Garmin website directly to get the fit file. Currently Garmin Connect is not letting you download fit files (if you go to garmin connect and select “export original” you will get an error), this second error is causing ConnectStats to hang on its processing queue (my bug).

If you select Garmin WebSite as a source it will get the data of your activity without trying to get the fit file and this seems to work at the moment.

I’ll update this as the situation evolve and post on twitter as well.

Some usage statistics on ConnectStats usage

Following the Garmin outage, someone asked me on twitter about some usage statistics and its evolution over time. I thought it would be a good idea to put together a little write up both on the stats but also to show people what type of usage data one can see when you have an app.

ConnectStats remains a very tiny player compared to the big guys, and its two key statistics is that in the recent month the app got about 5,000 downloads and on average 3,000 users start the app every day with some variation between weekend and weekdays. This is quite a representative month.

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Garmin Outage and ConnectStats

Garmin Servers were out from Thursday July 23rd to Monday July 27th. I won’t go over what happened at Garmin as it’s well covered in the press or other sites, but wanted to share how it impacted me and ConnectStats. While the impact on ConnectStats wasn’t massive, the episode resulted in two small fixes and improvements…

The discovery

First, it happened that on a Thursday when I didn’t go out running. So I didn’t realise until Friday, after the Garmin Connect App didn’t upload my latest morning run. The app was reporting some maintenance, which I didn’t worry about too much. I just opened ConnectStats, to see how the app was handling the maintenance, it reported a Garmin Error and invalid name or password if you tried to use the Garmin Website connection. Not great, but it’s hard sometime to interpret the web page errors. Mental note to check again later see if could interpret the message better, and I went to work.

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8 years later: why I still use and maintain ConnectStats.

A trip down ConnectStats history

I was just cleaning my files and stumbled across my old source code repository and looked at the first code commit of ConnectStats in September 2012…

ConnectStats and other apps have come a long way since then. The original reason I wrote ConnectStats are no longer valid, but today I still use it and feel the need to maintain it. I’ll go through how I use it, where I think it still has an edge vs other apps and where the other apps provide features I need but will never implement in ConnectStats.

I personally use extensively the Strava App, the Garmin Connect App and ConnectStats. It is very possible there are other apps out there that do a terrific job that I don’t know, but this article is just about what I use myself.

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How did you push yourself over time?

I mentioned many time the best rolling plots are my favorite feature of ConnectStats. After adding a new ability to visually see when you reached specific best, I have now a first version of a feature I have been planning to do for a while now: time analysis of specific slice of your best achievement.

So today, I submitted to Apple for release a first version of this feature in ConnectStats 6.1. The best rolling curve shows you what best power, heart rate or pace you reached for a given time or distance. You could previously see what that curve looked like for a month or year. Now you can see how specific point evolved over time.

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How to AirDrop to Linux

A Father and Son File Sharing App Project

I mostly work and play within the Apple ecosystem and AirDrop, Continuity and other integration between devices is extremely useful and convenient. My son recently converted himself to Linux and started to miss the ability to easily move photos, text, or url between his phone and his Linux computer. Being a hacker himself, he thought it would be a great idea to devise an app that let’s you move information from your phone to your computer, and more generally a “cross platform AirDrop substitute for geeks”…

Of course, one solution would be to google and figure out if such an app exists, but where is the fun in that? We decided to take on a Father-Son new project and build our own solution.

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Improved Analysis of Power Curves

First a quick note as I write this, since the new ConnectStats service was introduced, the new service has now passed the 1 million activities threshold out of 14,000 users who used the new service rolled out in January! It is small compared to the big players, but nice nonetheless.

After working on improving the calculation of the best rolling curves, I have now implemented a first version of an improved summary analysis.

In the new version 6.0 of ConnectStats you can now explore your power curves or best rolling plot and study when you reached you best and compare in detail how you are improving over time.

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