Windows Reunion with Nokia Lumia 920

The last time I touched a Windows mobile phone was May 2010. Back then I love WM phones, because it opened up so many development opportunities, from application to rom. I developed a couple of apps, and if app store was the only way to install app, I probably earned a tidy sum for some of my work, specifically StayUnlock. I subsequently went on with ROM development for my TouchHD then, and Merlion Leon ROM was my first attempt at OS level development (My subsequent attempt was modifying Android kernel for my Galaxy S) . I probably explore everything a developer could do, and then Microsoft decided that they need to overhaul their mobile product, and I told myself I should explore elsewhere while Microsoft goes figure their next journey.

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

It was the start of my 3 years Android journey and I had the full dessert course. I saw how Android evolved from the likes of Cupcake and Eclair, trying to find its footing in Gingerbread and Icecream Sandwich, to finally maturing as a yummy and addictive Jellybean. I would be lying if I said the desserts were all sweet and nothing else. They were bitter or sour moments, but its a choice between growing to be smart, or pretending to be already one. I chose the former and I am glad I had seem Android growing by leaps and bounds.

In recent months, I had watched Microsoft development with keen interest. It was almost like being home sick and you want to find the right timing to head home. WP 7 development started with a refreshing concept and innovation in its metro UI and live tiles. I thought it needed a couple of hardening through Mango and Tango. When WP8 was first announced last year. It really caught my full attention. And when Nokia announced its flagship Lumia 920, superceding its 900, I thought the opportunity had come knocking my door.

But it was not without some hesitation. It is like when a salesman comes knocking your door with a great deal, you will skeptically wonder if it is a scam. It didn’t help that Nokia Lumia 920 was launched and introduced with some controversial marketing advertisement.

First, the look is not really inspiring, it looks just like its predecessor (or so I perceived). In fact, many would agree it might even be mistaken as its sibling, Lumia 820. The weight is also mind boggling. Perhaps Nokia is trying to enhance its paper weight value proposition like manu other smart phones. Having own a couple of  light and slim phones like Galaxy S3 and S2, I was worried that I would need to strengthen up my biceps just to handle the extra 50-60 grams of weight. The lack of apps in the appstore is the other concern. Having seen the pathetically half filled Windows 8 store, I was worried if I will have cold turkey the moment I step into the store.

Will Windows be a key player in mobile space?

Will Windows be a key player in mobile space?

The lure of slick metro UI interface AND superior Carl Zeiss lens eventually won me over, despite being adequately satisfied with my Jelly-beaned Galaxy S3. The weight problem did falter away after some getting use to, probably because my biceps were already tuned to such weight when I owned Xperia S previously (just compared the two bricks, and Nokia Lumia is still the winner).

Having used the Lumia for 3 days, I am pretty certain that whatever I experienced will be the same in the next few months.  And it will only get better, although I do not expect miracle change overnight. The beauty of Windows Phone lies on its simplicity. Metro UI  with simple (but slick) navigation are all that makes up the entire user experience of the phone. There are no cluttered menus, and every content chunks are layered nicely that the navigation is intuitive (but only if you realised that you can swipe left/right to “layer” through) In that regards, Windows Phone hit an almost perfect score.

Networking capability seems to be superior than its competitors too. Before we get too carried away, Microsoft’s “Smoked by Microsoft Challenge” is a combination of marketing gimmicks and its capable networking feature, at least from my personal experience. When I share a photo to Facebook, indeed it was almost instantaneous, blazingly faster than any phones I have used (except when I share via photoUp in Android phones). It turned out that the photos are not only compressed, they are resized into a lower resolution, by as much as a third. It is therefore not a rocket science to explain why the photo sharing can be lightening fast in Windows Phone. That does not mean that Windows Phone is just all show and nothing real. I do observed that it handles small data transfer far more efficient than its WM predecessor, and probably Android and Apple as well. With our phones so tightly intertwined with internet, such efficiency helps to ensure the navigation experience continues to be butter-ly smooth when the connectivity crawls. The camera is one of the best camera phone I had owned so far, when compare to the likes of HTC One X and Sony Xperia series. What I like of  Nokia’s implementation of camera functionalities  is I could activate the camera function even when my phone is pin-locked. Not all Android phones manufacturers implemented this feature consistently, and not surprisingly only Sony understands why this is seemingly trivial but important feature for photography enthusiasts like myself

My main gripe with Windows phone, as expected is the lack of apps. Perhaps the apps will come in times to come, but something must be done to entice the creative developers to develop in this platform. Some missing apps are as simple as 3G data usage tracker. Perhaps Microsoft has assumed that with their more efficient networking capability, such tracker is a redundant. But with the telcos clamping down on 3G/4G usage with removal of unlimited or reducing quota, this miss is a glaring one for me. But of course, I cannot be whining with just this trivial app miss. I can no longer do streaming of my favourite mp3 from my home media server over internet, use Runkeeper to track my running exercise (thankfully, I rely more on my Garmin watch now), or use my phone to remote control my TV (edit: it looks like there’s an app for it now, but I need to see its compatibility). More critically, as we see more gadget startups like Pebble sprouting with great ideas to transform mobile phones beyond just a personal communication device, most of them are still focusing on developing their ideas on Apple and Android platform. Microsoft needs to take a different approach in the mobile and consumer world. It needs to reach out to these start-ups more pro-actively. I think its attempt to entice developers through significant payout was a good start, but I have the inkling feeling that it just sit on incentive framework it had created for the developers which  I thought was just too passive. Microsoft should realise that their success is greatly dependent on the startup just as the latter depends on it.

It’s now or never.

Run for food: Year end report card

Year end Report Card

Year end Report Card

Time flies, it seems just yesterday when I started to drag my near one-tenth of a tonne body to get some workouts. It  has been a year, and a year of running I am proud to say. Despite suffering a injured ankle ligament and still in process of recovery, I did not gave up like what I did 10 years ago where my fitness dove downhill after I suffer feet injury. I learnt that momentum must be built on, otherwise the inertia would be more than ten times of my weight.

More report cards

More report cards

December has been a slow month so far, I decide to go for shorter, but more frequent runs, as I frankly prefer to run more than swim and even cycling. Shorter run would give my feet more recovery time as I always feel the ankles losing its support after 45 minutes of run. A year have gone, I have chalked up nearly 1500km of distance, spending over 196 hours running, swimming and cycling, and consequently burning close to 131,000 of calories! Guess what? That’s equivalent of clearing calories gained for eating this super burger!

All in all, here’s the “score card”

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 14th December  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  143  1041.48
 Cycling  14  356.24
 Swimming  62  91.4

Run for Food: 1000km milestone!

It has been more than 11 months since I started my running regiment. Today, I reached the milestone of completing 1000km of running. It is not a lot for a seasoned runner, but certainly a magic number for me. 11 months ago, I would not have thought I would clock a mileage of 100km, let alone 1000km.



From the chart, you can tell that I had cut down my running activities in Aug – Sept period. It was due to the injury I sustained in August, and in fact am still recovering from it. Thankfully, it didn’t hold me from attaining my goal.

Incidentally, I had curry fishhead for dinner, what a way to celebrate the goal accomplishment, and keep the motivation going!

Run for Food: Peak October and Lazy November

October is the peak month in terms of the duration and calories burnt. But I am expecting the level to tapper down to a more realistic one. The “3-2-1” regiment is not sustainable as I usually would feel tired up on Saturday to go for a 2 hours cycling routine. So it has been swim and run, and for the last 2 weeks, I have skipped “Wednesday” and declared that as a rest day. Getting lazy!

Ankle support

Fitness wise, I observed a steady improvement based on the outcome of some of the workouts. On running, I am doing more zone-3 running, and shorter distance interval training. I am not sure if that had helped in improving my fitness, as I could stay comfortable with running at an average pace of 6.30 min/km for 3-4 km before my heartbeat goes into zone-4. Something to improve on, i.e. keeping at that pace for a longer duration.  It helps that I am doing a more effective forefoot running now, which makes the run more efficient than heel foot running. I also attribute the improvement to better ankle support guard which I got recently. But the ankle still cannot sustain more than 45 minutes run, as my feet will start to feel the strain again, regardless of the ankle support I have.

Exercise Summary (Dec’11-Nov’12)

On swimming, I was pleasantly surprised that I completed a 1km freestyle swim under 25 minutes in one of the swim sessions. It is probably not something to shout about for most swimmers, but certainly for somebody like me who is not a natural swimmer. I also stretched my swimming distance to 3km on 27th October; The completion satisfaction level was high especially considering that I had to endure 86 minutes of mundane routine.


Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 23rd Nov  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  136  995.13
 Cycling  13  317.48
 Swimming  60  87.4

Run for Food: 3-2-1 Swim-Run-Cycle

Last week was a packed week, as far as exercise is concerned. I had decided to do less swim now, and more on running and/or cycling. That said, it all depends on whether my recovering feet and knees can take the physical stress. Based on how my body reacted after a “3 swims, 2 runs and 1 cycle” week, I do have to make some adjustment to my exercise regiment as I feel my left ankle and right knee are not completely recovered yet.

Tired leg after 1 week of exercise

Fitness seems to have improved steadily. I hit a top speed of 30.3km/h momentarily on my 16″ wheeler, but more importantly, I could consistently kept my speed between 20km/h and 24km/h,  throughout the 30km cycling route.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 26th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  128  936.1
 Cycling  11  284.5
 Swimming  40  68.6

Run for Food: Milestone reached for 1000km goal

RunKeeper dropped me an email yesterday, and I realised I am inching closer to my 1000km goal. I am just 100km away from my goal, but unless I can resume my 3 times a week running regiment, it is unlikely I can hit the goal before end of this year.


Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 18th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  125  902.62
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  31  60.6

Run for food: 100 nickels more to offload

How much is 500g

That will be equivalent to 500g of my body mass. If only it’s that easy to offload. Actually, it should not be too difficult, considering that I have been exercising almost on a daily basis, except on Sunday. But given that we are in the Mid Autumn festive season, I should count myself lucky for not having any weight increase after dumping in dozen of moon cakes!

Me while my virtual race partner is far in front of me, out of sight.

This has been a rather intense week as far as exercising is concerned. I ran 60 minutes of steadfast pace (6.52min/km) in the mid-week, with daily 2 km swim daily in between. The virtual race partner feature in Garmin Forerunner 910xt is interesting. It gives me a sense of how far behind (or ahead) I am from my virtual running partner as I run. A good feature for people like me who runs alone but need some pacer to keep me from slacking away. The Garmin’s lap swimming feature went through a stress test last week, having swam a total of 320 laps over 4 swimming sessions. While it is not 100% accurate, with an average of 1-2.5% miscount rate, I can now concentrate fully on my swim, rather than getting distracted by the tracking of the rubber bands. My main gripe now is the device has problem identifying my breast strokes, as it frequently detects them as backstroke instead. No problem with freestyle swim though.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 10th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  124  892.68
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  26  51.6

I mentioned previously that I like RunKeeper for its dashboard reporting feature. While Garmin tracks and reports all the possible details at activity level, it does not summarize all the activities like what RunKeeper does, such as the one below. Thankfully, RunKeeper is more than just a activity logging website with its strong social networking capability, particularly its support for third party app. With GarminSync, I am able to sync and post my Garmin activities to RunKeeper automatically. To the sports enthusiasts, RunKeeper is the Facebook of fitness.

Total distance and calories spent so far


Run for Food: New Motivation Gadget

Rubber band as lap tracker

Having swim for almost a month, I am convinced that I must have swimming as part of my exercise regiment, even after my foot fully recovers from the ligament sprain. For the last few weeks, I have been doing 40-100 laps of swimming, almost on a daily basis. With so many laps covered in every session, I had to have a method to track the laps. So I rely on rubber bands, an almost zero cost solution. Obviously I did not bring 40 or 100 rubber bands to the pool. While the solution is effective, I think an automated one is in order.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

For a while I have been tinkering with the idea of getting Garmin Forerunner 910XT. I like the fact that it can be quickly released for bike mounting, and that it has a comprehensive activity tracking mechanism, probably even better than with my RunKeeper app and Polar HRM watch combined. I did not act on my tinker because I thought it will be an overkill (no, I’m not gunning for triathlon) while  convinced that Polar will do a far more accurate heart rate monitoring than Garmin. However, the recent increase in swimming activities led me to tilt and fast track my buying decision.

I went ahead to purchase one with quick release belt from GPS-Are-Us. Having used the fitness watch thrice in the last 3 days, once during a 60 min run, and twice on a swim, I have mixed feeling about my new gadget.

910XT mounted on my Brompton

The plus

I love the fact that now the watch can automatically count my swimming laps. When in lap swimming mode, the watch makes use of accelerometer to count the lap, determine and measure the swimming strokes (up to 4 different types of swimming stroke). There were inaccuracies in my first swim, where some laps  were miscounted but a firmware upgrade (from 2.5 to 2.6) seemed to have corrected the bugs. Coming from a GPS company, the Forerunner is also far more accurate than RunKeeper in measuring the running distance. With 5 different switch-able display screens (each capable of displaying up to 4 data fields), there are plenty of information for reference as I run. There is even a virtual pacer mode although I have not tried the feature yet. I love the quick release feature and it works just as expected. Having said that, I have not tried the watch on a cycling session yet, but I am looking forward to its rich data capturing and analysis just as I have experienced for running and swimming.

Watch needs frequent charging

The minus

Firstly, huge disappointment creep in when I discovered that the device will not track heartbeat during swimming. I was hoping that I had misinterpreted, or a firmware upgrade could fix it. Unfortunately, the reality set in when I learnt that the inability to track heartbeat is due to the frequency used by Garmin. In contrast, Polar uses dual frequency (one for land use and one for submerging in water) and therefore I have no problem using it to track my heartbeat in the last few weeks. Forerunner 910xt is also not a watch for daily wear; The watch gets too bulky when fitted with the quick release catch and belt system. The watch also needs to be recharged, as frequent as daily especially if I do not turn off the GPS. Last but not least, it can only display time of the day, no date.

Data sync or firmware upgrade are done via the USB ANT.

From a data synchronisation and analysis standpoint, the device synchronizes seamlessly via my laptop to the cloud managed by Garmin. There are plenty of data for analysis, so I think that is one of Garmin’s biggest strength. The activities summary dashboard reports however are left much to be desired, given its lack of proper graph charting feature. There are some workaround though, as I have researched a few app (e.g. GarminSync, Fit2App) that could sync Garmin data to RunKeeper, which still offers the best health reports and charts in my opinion.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 28th September 2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  122  879.02
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  21  42.6


Run for Food: Swimming as effective weight loss exercise?

Ever since I had started swimming 3 weeks ago, I had observed my body is responding to the exercise much better than before. This is despite after reading about swimming burns less calories, or how it is less effective than running in achieving weight loss.

Apart from feeling the ache of my body muscles all round after a swim,  versus the feeling of ligament strains after a run, I thought I have become leaner after 3 weeks if daily swim, at least psychologically.

Here’s my reasoning; It is an established fact that exercising burns different source of our body “fuel” (fat, carbohydrates, protein, etc), depending on the zone that our heart is exercising. At aerobic zone, our body burns more calories than exercising at fitness zone, while consuming a more balance percentage of energy source between fat and carbohydrates.  Unless I am on low carbohydrates diet, aerobic zone is the most effective weight loss zone.  Having run for 9 months, I know it is not an easy to keep to aerobic zone throughout the one hour of running, probably due to the loss of body fluid. On the other hand, I noticed that I can keep to the aerobic zone consistently regardless of whether I stick to a 30 mins or 1 hour swimming session.

Back on swimming, I am never been a natural swimmer from the onset. I do not feel comfortable when in the water, even when I could stay a float or swim. For a long while, I would have struggled to complete a 100m  freestyle, let alone a long distance freestyle swim. In the last 3 weeks of swimming, I have been doing one lap of  freestyle with one lap of  breast stroke routine for my swim. The breast stroke is more like a rest stroke for me to catch my breathing before doing the next freestyle lap. But 2.5 weeks of consecutive swimming seems to have paid off.

Me Swimming

On 12th September, I managed to stretch my swimming distance to 2.5km, albeit with the alternate strokes method. Despite four consecutive days of 2km (with one of them being 2.5km) swims, I did not feel any more fatigue, unlike a week ago. While I only completed a 1.5km distance on the 5th swim day (I had originally planned for a 1km swim) I actually completed a 40 continuous laps (or 1km) of freestyle swim. It is simply amazing that after 40 years, I have finally achieved this feat.

With all said, I figure that I should try and improve my strokes so that I can breathe on the alternate sides. That would probably be my next goal while continuing to stretch my freestyle swimming distance. In the meantime, I am looking forward for my next run (target to be a week later), as I am confident that 4 weeks of daily swimming should bring some positive impact to my running sessions.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 14th September 2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  120  862.12
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  11  26.1