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 The original reason I wrote ConnectStats are no longer valid, but today I still use it and feel the need to maintain it.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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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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Daily exercise in lockdown

We are living through strange times. I live in London and we are currently in lockdown/stay at home order for a few weeks now. I am quite lucky that my family and myself didn’t get infected by the virus and are still healthy. We are following the rules and staying home except for the daily exercise. Luckily in London, unlike in France where some of my family lives, we are allowed to bike and run without a constraints to stay too close to home (one kilometre in france), as long as we leave and come back from our home it’s ok.

As the weather has been gorgeous since the beginning of the lockdown, this enabled me to log quite a few nice runs and ride.

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Units and Translations

ConnectStats tries to maintain for each field in an activities from Garmin or Strava a list of translations and units for the metric or imperial system. I am mostly my-self using the app in English and metric but I had updated the list in different languages from some sources I had found online and the Garmin website a few years ago.

But it is now a bit dated and there are quite a few attributes for which I do not have the translations. Some users volunteered to update the translations in their native language. In addition recently I received quite a few bugs report about units being incorrect for example for elevation or weights.

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Chasing Complex Bugs: Power Curves and Best Rolling Curves

The harder category of bugs are when it is related to bad numbers generated from the more complex algorithms in ConnectStats. This is what is now happening with the best rolling plots.

The rolling best curve are one of my favorite feature in ConnectStats, they provide insight I don’t see in many other services. It’s quite common to see a power curve, but I feel the concept extended to heart rate or speed help give people a good sense of the characteristic of a workout. While the concept is simple, it actually can be a bit tricky to implement (at least for me it was). The current version of the app shows quite a few quirks that are obviously wrong, like the below.

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Chasing bugs never ends

I am now stuck at home as many of us. Weather out is beautiful. So I’ll take the opportunity of the extra time to try to write more about the app development. One source of inspiration that never seem to end is chasing bugs in the app! So while I have the time at home, I’ll try to detail them as I chase them! Starting with some database woes…

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New version fixing old legacy code

ConnectStats has been around for a while now. It started in 2011, while the Garmin API was in a very different place as today. I have maintained it over the years, but there is still quite a bit of complexity in the code due to the history of the API evolution.

I am pushing a new version that simplifies some of the legacy internals of the code.

As any internal upgrade, it will help in the future and fixes some side effect or bugs coming from the legacy complexity. But it also comes with high risk as it is hard to test all the side effect. I’ll try to fix what comes out.

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Quick review of COVID-19 data

While I am still preparing a new release of ConnectStats fixing a few issues, right now, the corona virus is a major distraction for most of us. While the virus spreads there is a lot of information floating around and it can be sometimes be a bit confusing. So I decided to see what could I verify on my own at home with basics analysis and tools. I’ll be using python/jupyter/pandas, which is very standard and easy to install or can be run directly on google collab

This may become a bit technical for some, but hopefully will be interesting and may help some people learn more about python and pandas as more of us have to stay home…

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