Marathon running for geeks – supplemental

23 04 2010

With the Virgin London Marathon 2010 less than two days away now, what does a geek do to prepare? They’ve finished their hardcore training and have tapered off the effort so as not to cause any damage or pick up any new injuries, they’re stuffing themselves with unfeasably high numbers of carbohydrates and calories to load up on energy pre-event, and sitting around waiting for the day is causing their nerves to shred a teensy bit. So as a result of having some free time, mostly sitting, and looking for a distraction, they play with technology. Geo location technology, to be specific, that is going to track me and my good lady Emma around the Marathon course for friends to follow our progress online.

My Blackberry died yesterday – I got an error stating ‘SIM not provisioned:2’ which turned out to be a faulty chip on the SIM (if you move the SIM to another phone the issue follows it, but the phone will work with a different SIM in). If this happens to you, ring up your provider’s tech support and get them to ship you out a new SIM then transfer your account across – I was without my phone for a day, but having reported it at 2pm yesterday (and making a bit of a fuss at the call centre) they couriered me one out for 9am, and I was up and running by 1 this afternoon. Incidentally, this phone-death put me into a bit of a flap as it was my Blackberry I was intending to use when playing with geo location service Google Latitude, but now with the phone back to health I could put my plan into action. The steps are as follows:

  1. Install Google Maps on your device, either from an app store or by visiting from your handset
  2. From the Google Maps menu, select Join Latitude and sign in with your Google Account (or register for one)
  3. Sign up for a Google Public Location Badge here –
  4. Follow the steps to generate an embed code
  5. You can then paste the embed code into a web page, anything that supports embedding the iFrame html tag will do (unfortunately that’s not, but you can do it on self-hosted blogs). I chose to open a Blogger/Blogspot blog for this, as their blogs are owned by Google and they support the embedding of the app

From there, it will track your location to the best of its ability given the accuracy of the location information provided by your handset. My phone doesn’t have GPS so relies on the mobile coverage for tracking, but still usually tracks me to within a couple of dozen feet even in the wilds of Yorkshire, so coverage in our nation’s capital should be far better and the accuracy will be pretty tight. Please remember though, that if you’ve chosen to enable a Google Public Location Badge through Latitude Apps (and it will warn you of this at great length) that once you’ve created the embed code, the embed code will always exist. If you take down the page with your embedded frame on it, if somebody has chosen to scrape the link of the frame and embed it somewhere else, your location will still be visible. You can go back to the Location Badge page to disable the feature, though, or simply stop sharing your Latitude location from your device.

DIY Google Latitude Marathon Tracker

Tracking my trips to and from work aren't very exciting, but come Sunday 25th April you'll see me running around London from 9.45am!

Thus far, mine has only shown me travelling to and from work (not very interesting) but we’re travelling down to London tomorrow and the Marathon starts around 9.45am. If you want to follow our progress, visit:

And if you want to sponsor us in aid of Cancer Research UK, please visit:


Marathon running for geeks

30 03 2010

If I come up against some kind of challenge, task or obstacle, my first thought is usually “what could I utilise to make this easier?” I find a spoonful of technology makes the world go round, or some other confusing kind of mixed metaphor, but the principle works. If you want to paint a room, use one of those self-cleaning even-distributing electronic paint pods, rather than getting more paint on yourself and your carpet using the traditional tray-and-roller method. If you need information on the move use your data-enabled smartphone, rather than scouting around for an internet cafe, paying £3 an hour and feeling obliged to drink stale filter for the duration. If you’re booking a holiday use the web to find the best price and comparison sites to get real reviews on the destination and hotel, rather than trusting to travel agents who are basically obsolete in this digital age (and will tell you anything to make a sale given the massive amount of business they have lost to the web). What can you use, though, if the challenge is one of pure physical endurance and stamina? How can technology help if the task is simply you, 26.2 miles, and a whole lot of pavement? I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK (you can sponsor me by visiting my JustGiving page), but what technology can you utilise to help you get around a marathon? 

The London Marathon

I will be in there (somewhere) come April 25th this year.

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