Strava or Ride with GPS?

TL;DR: It depends. Strava is Facebook for cyclists. Ride with GPS is the serious geogeek/cyclist’s companion. I keep both apps on my mobile device, but I use mostly Strava will be using exclusively Ride with GPS going forward. My decision was made easier by my friend Adena Schutzberg — a digital mapping (GIS) and endurance athlete veteran — who told me that her bike club, the Charles River Wheelmen, selected Ride with GPS as their route distribution tool.


With the demise of Google My Tracks, I needed to select an alternative — a replacement app with which to track and record my bike rides on my Android phone. (I briefly considered getting a dedicated bike computer (e.g., a Garmin), which many veteran cyclists swear by. But the thought of owning and charging and managing yet another device quickly rendered this option untenable.)

On January 30, 2016 — the day of the Google My Tracks deprecation announcement — I went back to Strava, which I had signed up for years ago and subsequently replaced with My Tracks. The reasons I ditched Strava in the first place are still there today — it has way too much stuff. Challenges, badges, game-like “social” features are to me bloatware that I don’t need. But I kept using Strava, because it did what I needed — kept track of my rides.

Then I signed up for a charity 40-mile ride, which published the routes in what the organizers called “Garmin” and “Ride with GPS” formats. Garmin not being an option I was willing to consider, I looked at the “Ride with GPS” format, which turned out to be a GPX file. Can you import a GPX file into Strava? No. So I signed up for Ride with GPS.

I paid $2 for a three-day pass, downloaded the Tour de Franklin route to my device, and set out to test the navigation capabilities of Ride with GPS — in my car. Which is where I ran into problems (almost certainly attributable to my aging device). I couldn’t get the audio or spoken alerts to work no matter how many things I tried, and towards the end of the test — after about an hour and a half of driving — my device’s battery was at less than 10%. It was now clear that I wouldn’t be able to use Ride with GPS with my current device (Google Nexus 4) to navigate along a four-hour ride.

[UPDATE May 5, 2016] My technical problems with Ride with GPS were caused by user error (me), and were swiftly and expertly addressed and resolved by RWGPS tech support represented by Tomas.


Screenshot of Ride with GPS Android app
Screenshot of Ride with GPS Android app

Back to The Google. After some digging I found a beta script on Strava Labs that allows users to upload a GPX file and convert it to an editable Strava route. At the time of this writing the script does not create new geometry data in Strava, only best-matches GPX data to geometry that is already in Strava. This was close enough in my use case, and my experiment ended. Strava won this round, if for the wrong reasons.

CONCLUSION: If I had to make the switch away from Google My Tracks today — knowing what I know now — I would select Ride with GPS right away. It is an excellent app with serious mapping chops and outstanding support.

Why is Orthodox Easter different from Western Easter?

Or, when is a full moon not a full moon?

The formula for Easter — “The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox” — is identical for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars: Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older, Julian calendar.

The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

You can find many more details here.

Snapchat still crashes my Google Nexus 4 phone

Snapchat began crashing my Google Nexus 4 phone about two years ago. I did a lot of research on that, found out that Snapchat and Google were pointing fingers at each other. I blogged about this, then removed Snapchat, then removed my old blog.

Snapchat notice Google Nexus 4 Android 4.3 bug crash notice October 09, 2013
Snapchat notice Google Nexus 4 Android 4.3 bug crash notice October 09, 2013

Two years later I reinstalled Snapchat on the same device, hoping that by now the problems would be resolved. Surprise, surprise! They’re not. Snapchat still crashes the device.

I will dig up and repost my old write-up here in a few days. But for now, bye bye Snapchat!


[UPDATE March 17, 2016] Below is a summary of my numerous posts (on my now-defunct blog ObliviousAT) on the topic since the issue first manifested itself on August 5, 2013 when my Google Nexus 4 device updated itself to Android 4.3.

An important distinction from similar reports: While others report the crashes beginning with a 4.4 upgrade, for me they began with 4.3.

  • August 5, 2013: Snapchat crashes and reboots the device
  • August 23, 2013: Three (three!!!) Snapchat updates after the release of Android 4.3, and the crashes seem to have disappeared. I applaud Snapchat, but keep wondering why Google/Android hasn’t taken any action. It seems to me that now Snapchat knows how to crash Android but chooses not to. Android watches idly and passively.
  • August 24, 2013: Snapchat crashed and rebooted the phone.
  • August 27, 2013: Android 4.3 updated itself to 4.3. Weird numbering sequence, but whatever. As long as the device stops crashing and rebooting, I’m cool. Snapchat hasn’t crashed since the 4.3 to 4.3 update, but I haven’t used it much. Unconfirmed reports from another Nexus 4 user indicate that the crashes still occur, although less frequently.
  • September 13, 2013: Snapchat still crashes the phone, after 3 Snapchat updates and one Android update. Phone vibrates for about ten seconds, like it’s in the throes of death. Then reboots. Why is it so easy to crash the phone?
  • October 9, 2013: Snapchat points the finger at Google, says a bug in the Nexus 4 Android 4.3 operating system — an issue out of Snapchat’s control — is to blame for the device crashes and reboots.

Eric Clapton : While My Guitar Gently Weeps

You read that right. Eric Clapton, not George Harrison, plays lead guitar in The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. For many a Beatles aficionado — including this one — that came as a surprise. The story, as told by George:

I’ll tell you, I worked on that song with John, Paul, and Ringo one day, and they were not interested in it at all. And I knew inside of me that it was a nice song. The next day I was with Eric, and I was going into the session, and I said, “We’re going to do this song. Come on and play on it.” He said, “Oh, no. I can’t do that. Nobody ever plays on the Beatles records.” I said, “Look, it’s my song, and I want you to play on it.” So Eric came in, and the other guys were as good as gold–because he was there.

(via Open Culture and M.V.)

Bitcoin and the idiosyncrasies of very high-IQ people

“What Happened At The Satoshi Roundtable” is a great write-up by Brian Armstrong, who attended the Satoshi Roundtable conference along with about 70 other members of the Bitcoin community (read the whole thing if you are into Bitcoin). I was particularly struck by his spot-on observations about the idiosyncrasies of very smart people. If you replace ‘Bitcoin’ with the name of your project in the abstract below, I am sure you can relate.

The core team contains some very high IQ people, but there are some things which I find very concerning about them as a team after spending some time with them last weekend.

  1. Some of them show very poor communication skills or a lack of maturity — this has hurt bitcoin’s ability to bring new protocol developers into the space.

  2. They prefer ‘perfect’ solutions to ‘good enough’. And if no perfect solution exists they seem ok with inaction, even if that puts bitcoin at risk.

(via Brian Timoney)