Cycling Notes Training

Solved: Bluetooth Connectivity Problems with Recent Huawei Smartphones

Since getting my most recent Huawei phone (using Android 6.0 “Marshmallow”), I’ve noticed that automatic syncing of my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch often didn’t happen automatically – even if the Garmin Connect app was open. Typically, restarting the phone would solve the issue, and allow a sync to happen – however next time, it would fail, meaning another restart was necessary. Very annoying! There was not a problem with my older Huawei phone, which was on an older (v4.0) version of Android.

I recently acquired a Beeline smart compass for my bike, and immediately had the same issue. The initial setup was fraught, as it requires a Bluetooth connection, and I was only able to gain one, and pair it through the app, upon restarting my phone. After a few minutes, the connection would drop and, even though it was paired, the Beeline and phone would be unable to find each other.

The problem is due to a bug in the way Huawei’s battery management of its Bluetooth connection to apps, works. A simple configuration change was all that was needed, in order to fix both the Bluetooth connectivity between the Garmin Connect app and my Garmin Forerunner, and between the Beeline app and my Beeline device itself. Once I made the change, I was able to set up Garmin Connect so that it runs in the background, and now I don’t even have to manually open the app in order to sync, after a cycle ride.

The change is surprisingly poorly documented, and also quite hard to find. Indeed it seems to have been specifically hidden away. Essentially, you need to disable Huawei battery management for the app.

The steps you need to do are:

  1. Go to the Settings app.
  2. Choose “Apps & notifications”
  3. Choose “Apps”
  4. Press “Setting” at the bottom.
  5. Press “Special access” under the Advanced section.
  6. Press “Ignore battery optimisation”
  7. Press the “Allowed” dropdown at the top.
  8. Choose “All apps”
  9. Scroll to the app which is experiencing the Bluetooth connection issues. It will probably have “Not allowed” displayed below it.
  10. Select the app concerned.
  11. Choose the “Allow” option and press OK.

That’s it!

Your Beeline, or Garmin Forerunner, should now generally connect without issues. You have to wait a few seconds, and you may sometimes need to toggle off and on the Bluetooth function from your shortcut panel. But you shouldn’t have to restart your phone just to be able to connect your devices.


Going Android with the Huawei Ascend G7

huawei_ascendg7This post is about an Android perspective from the the point-of-view of a long time iPhone user. I’ve been an Apple tech-enthusiast for most of my life and have had an iPhone in my pocket for a good 5-6 years. However I have now acquired a Huawei Ascend G7 phone with Android “KitKit” on it, + the Huawei interface extensions. Huawei are gradually making a name for themselves for producing phones with a premium feel and near-top-range features, for a good price. The Ascend G7 is selling for around £200 in the UK but, in spec and feel, is only a smidgen below the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 which are up at £500+. Apple is making an awful lot of money from phones so clearly there is a cheaper way – this could be it.

Plus it was the right time to move – my current iPhone 4 is working perfectly well, is fast and has a nice screen, but Apple has decided to cut me out of getting the newest software – iOS 8 – and apps are starting to appear that require this version, e.g. Trails, which looks awesome.

N.B. I’ve actually had the phone for a couple of months, but I wrote the below around 48 hours after getting the new phone.

48 Hours into Android

Things I Miss

So, there’s quite a lot I miss from iPhone. This is to be expected, but here goes:

  • Universal “jump to top” gesture. This is what I miss most, oddly. Particularly when reading long webpages, but for other apps too, e.g. Feedly and my mail app. Many apps have a way of doing this but it’s slightly different in each.
  • Web Apps are self-contained rather than being just browser views, so if you want to change to a separate website, you have to go to the browser proper rather than accesssing a URL bar there and then.
  • Combined view for multiple email accounts. This does exist, but only for the inbox, and I can’t move emails to folders, in this view. Solution is to use a better email client than the built-in one.
  • Unread notification numbers attached to app icons. They do exist for the Phone, Mail and Messaging apps but not for, for example, Twitter or Facebook. This inconsistency is really annoying!
  • The clock in the centre at the top, not on the right. I guess I had just got used to it on the right.
  • The phone is less comfortable to hold when reading with one hand, as it’s wider and thinner. I’ve partially fixed this issue by getting a case.
  • Some of the big apps, e.g. Twitter, have a surprisingly different feature set and look-and-feel between iOS and Android. I was expecting the transition to be more seamless.
  • Some apps (e.g. BBC News player) don’t respect the rotation-off setting.
  • Being able to switch the sound completely off – even to the point of no vibration – is worrying. What if I make my alarms completely silent?
  • I initially missed the physical “Home” button, I can live with the virtual one, although it would be nice if it stayed in the same place and was always visible.
  • Intuitive copy-and-paste of text. Text selection tools are clunky, particularly has different apps have different interfaces for copy/paste.
  • In a similar vein, same apps don’t allow me to see where a URL is pointing to, before clicking on it.
  • In-browser display of PDFs and other content.

The Good Bits

Now that that list is out of the way, here’s what I really like:

  • Google Now voice detection has no problem understanding my (rather English sounding) accent and almost always gets it right. It’s a shame however that often it just forward to a regular Google web search.
  • The camera is pretty nice. Initially it seemed to have problems with focusing but that seems to work better now and the quality of the images coming out are generally pretty good. The multi-focus feature, in particular, is a good way to almost guarantee focus.
  • Having files are great. Finally I can see what’s on my phone in an organised way.
  • The battery is good, particularly as I’d anecdotally heard this was Android’s Achilles Heel. It’s happily last more than a day.
  • Bluetooth transfer of media to other nearby phones. Although it’s still not as easy as it should be.
  • Almost every app I liked on my iPhone is also available for Android too.
  • Android is Not Perfect

    On a general (non-iPhone-user) basis, here’s a list of gripes about the phone and about Android:

    • Notification panel. Notifications get truncated and there’s no way to reveal their full text in most case – touching goes to the app concerned which may (or may not) reveal what the notification said.
    • Lots of bundled games which are severely limited (e.g they quit after 3 minutes. That’s not long enough to get hooked on a game!)
    • Apps lurk in the background using a lot of resource. This can be cleared down manually with phone manager but it’s a pain to remember to do this.
    • Google Maps app kept crashing when doing directions. This was fixable by updating to the latest version. It’s odd though that this updating of core apps like Google Maps didn’t get done automatically.
    • Some poorly designed icons clash with the theme icon containers. Facebook Messenger has so far been the worst for this.
    • Pre-installed which seem to do quite similar things. E.g. Settings and Google Settings. Google Now, Voice Search and Voice Dialler. Browser and Chrome. (Why not just Chrome?)
    • The “updater” app doesn’t update apps (see above) but (I think) just the operating system code. Instead, Google Play does the updating. Multiple apps for similar functionality…
    • I haven’t found Process Viewer yet.

    Overall – Android is pretty good, but suprisingly buggy and unintuitive, which is odd considering how much effot has gone into engineering it and how many people now use it. I’ve listed a lot of quirks above. However, looking at the bigger picture, they are nothing I can’t live with and really, considering how die-hard I was as an iPhone user, the transition was pretty painless.

    As a phone, the Ascent G7 is really nice, it feels every bit as good as an iPhone, and is really available at a bargain. Huawei are taking the time to create a high quality product without the silly pricing. In a market full of naff, cheap phones, or hugely expensive market leaders, this is refreshing. I should have switched earlier…


    The Tottenham Hale Gyratory

    The Tottenham Hale Gyratory is a road structure I know well – I pass through it regularly. It’s actually made up of two gyratories: a large one around Seven Sisters, and a small one around Tottenham Hale itself, connected like a “flywheel”:

    The “feeder” roads, all two-way, are shown in black. The one-way roads of the gyratory are shown in red, with an additional bonus couple of circles in green for the unfortunate buses visiting the bus station beside Tottenham Hale station. Having made it out of the main gyratories, they still have to “loop the loop”.

    There are lots of problems with the design. Being a one-way gyratory, it pushes lots of traffic, from different origins and destinations, together. Traffic tends to hurtle along the single-way roads at speed. As such, it has always been an intimidating obstacle for both pedestrians and cyclists.

    For example, people getting from the houses in the middle of the larger gyratory, to the northmost shopping area, or the station, have to cross a very strange road, where the traffic appears to be going on the wrong side of the road. What’s actually happening is this is where the two gyratories meet – or rather are only a couple of metres apart. As such, it is a confusing and unpleasant place if you aren’t in a car.

    Recently, TfL has been working on replacing the gyratories with a more conventional layout. Last weekend, they made their main switch – completely removing the smaller gyratory, and making much of the larger one two-way. The remaining one-way section will also go two-way soon. The swirly bus station has also disappeared, and will reappear as only one circle, early next year. This is what it looks like now (including the soon-to-emerge bus station):


    As you can imagine, the change has not gone down entirely smoothly:


    Plenty of cars have ended up heading along Hale Road, to find no connection with Ferry Lane, resulting in U-turns galore and extreme congestion. Others, coming southwards from Watermead Way or High Road, are still aiming for Broad Lane – the resulting left/right manoeuvre making the congestion still worse.

    I’ll not mention the seperate cycle network that mirrored the smaller gyratory and half the larger one, which has been completely dug up in the last week…

    Posted partly to commemorate the passing of the twin gyratories of Tottenham Hale but mainly as an excuse to draw the diagram.


    The Information Continuum

    So Google Reader is closing this summer. That’s a shame. It’s been my RSS feed reader for many years. I’m currently subscribed to 163 feeds, split across London, Tech, Mac, GIS, InfoVis, financial, orienteering and general. For a while I had a specially crafted Twitter search that fed tweets into Google Reader, but I eventually realised (when this overwhelmed the reader with the volume of tweets coming in) that mixing Twitter and feed reading is not a good idea. They serve slightly different purposes.

    One of the feeds I follow has suggested that, if I don’t switch feed reader, then there are other ways to keep updated – weekly email newsletters, Facebook update and Twitter updates. The thing is, none of these get quite the same level of attention: There is a continuum of information that RSS fits into.

    Google Reader sits squarely between these other ways I could absorb information, but each has their own problems:

    * Email – I normally get about 20-100 a day. These normally get read within a few hours of being sent, and will generally then sit in my inbox until I’ve around to filing them and replying to them – this might be a couple of months in extreme cases. The problem is that as a personal copy of each email has been delivered to you, and takes up (account) space. I feel compelled to just not let it sit there in the inbox forever.

    * Google Reader – generally about 20-50 a day. I don’t feel the need to read everything, but I’ll read most recent stories if bored. Probably about 50% get read. if I particularly like a story, I’ll star it – I maybe do this on 1% of stories. But otherwise they just scroll of to the bottom.

    * Facebook Updates – Facebook keeps changing the rules and algos, so it’s quite possible that, unless you pay for advertising and prominent placement, your story which you push to a Page that I subscribe to, won’t actually get seen, unless I proactively go to the Page or view my Pages tab which is obscure. It’s not a reliable free way to see content.

    * Tweets – I follow around 600 people and so probably get about 2000 a day, i.e. 1-2 a minute – much higher during the afternoon than the morning or night. There’s no way I’ll see everything.

    Here’s the best way to the worst way that I will see/know/act on something – the continuum of information.

    • Face to face – obviously. Unless I’m trying to concentrate on simething else!
    • Postal mail – it sits on my desk at home filling up space until I do something about it
    • Phoning me – I can’t miss it but I might forget about it
    • Tweeting me – unless I’ve done something very popular, these will generally get seen
    • Mobile texts – require me to either action then, or forget but re-remember
    • Facebook IM
    • Work Email – will read and forget, then eventually file/reply
    • Personal Email – will read and forget, then eventually file/reply
    • Facebook Mail
    • DMing me on Twitter – Twitter/clients are starting make this harder to see/remember
    • FlickrMail
    • RSS (Google Reader) – Fills an important space – I curated my view, so it is the most likely way I’ll read things that are not specifically directed to me.
    • Facebook Groups – The most read non-personal content on Facebook, thanks partly to email/text notifications
    • Facebook Newsfeed – I check it a lot less than Twitter but it’s also less noisy
    • Twitter Timeline – too many tweets come in and scroll off too quickly
    • Comment on my blog – thanks to a non-functioning mailserver.
    • Facebook Pages – stories here tend to not get viewed unless paid-placement
    • Websites – I actually have to visit them. This doesn’t stop me viewing a few key websites (BBC News, Diamond Geezer, Nopesport, Reddit London are my top four) almost every day.


    So… I fractured my collarbone when I fell off my bike last weekend, cycling too fast through a deeper than expected ford, while on a long cycle through country lanes in Essex. It’s a very minor break, not “clean-through”, but last week was a whole world of pain, and it will still be a few weeks before I’ll be back on my bike and/or running around again.

    That’s not to say there won’t be interesting things posted to this blog imminently, though. Later this week I should have a chance to get right inside the Olympic Park. I am hoping to take some photographs of the park, as the finishing touches are made to the landscaping and the buildings.


    MOO Facebook Cards

    My 50 new MOO Facebook cards arrived today – I ordered them on Thursday last week, taking advantage of the first 200,000 sets ordered being free. The cards are auto-created from my Facebook profile, the builder then allows you to further customise them. Note you need to have a new-style Timeline profile on Facebook to work – not everyone has been offered the option to upgrade to this yet.

    I’m particularly impressed with the quality of the paper the cards are printed on – a nice, smooth feel – and the neat Facebook-branded presentation holder they come in. The photos look surprisingly low-res and rather blurry, particularly the small profile photo. It doesn’t bug me too much though – they are nicer than my official business cards, and were completely free!

    Leisure Notes

    The Contour Road Book of Scotland

    I’m up in Oban in the Western Highlands for the next week or so, competing in the Scottish 6 Days international orienteering races. I’ll be cycling between the venues each day – with a single gear, as both my shifters have failed in the last couple of weeks. I was a bit worried about the hills on the roads around there – it is the Highlands after all, but my parents have found a book that should solve that problem. It is “The Contour Road Book of Scotland” and it is an original copy, published in 1896. You can see a slightly newer version (1898) here on the Internet Archive (see links on left) although this version misses out a few of the earlier pages.

    The book details all the major roads in Scotland (115 years ago – so no motorways or city bypasses!) with a subjective description of the road, a list of key gradients and sights, and an altitude profile. The Scottish Mountaineering Club reviewed it in their fourth edition (September 1896) and were encouraged that it could be used to relate cycling and mountaineering.

    I was pleased to see route 157 (Oban to Crianlarich) is “Class II [an ordinary main road]. The first 8 miles of the road are good.” Thankfully I’m not going further along it though, as it continues: “Thence to Tyndrum is a fearful road – grass and loose stones”. The book suggests a 1/13 gradient 3/4 mile from Oban will be my main concern, and that I’ll encounter Dunstaffnage Castle as a “Principle Object of Interest” after 3 miles. The section concludes with the encouraging comment that “The scenery on this road is very fine”.

    Here is a copy of the accompanying altitude profile, from the 1898 online version on the Internet Archive:

    Picking out one more route – 298 (Inverness to Fort Augustus), the guide writes that “the road gets worse and worse, and after Whitebridge is a loose mass of stones, with very steep hills… at times the surface… is little better than a watercourse… These hills of are course highly dangerous… the scenery about Foyers is very fine”. I cycled this route on Day 2 of my John O’Groats to London challenge and can indeed vouch for the scenery at Foyers.

    There are some evocative advertisements from the time – one for the Cockburn Hotel which is “adjoining Waverley Station” in Edinburgh, and offers “Passenger Lift” and “Electric Light” but “No Intoxicating Drinks”. The Pneumatic Brake Co Ltd of Manchester has “Tips to Tourists” where it quotes the book it is in – “Hills are not generally regarded as dangerous to descent until they are 1 in 15, and with anything steeper the danger increases” – by adding “If you desire to desire to descend hills of the above description with ease, safety and comfort, send your Cycle to the nearest Cycle Agent to be fitted with a Pneumatic Brake which can be done in a few minutes”. Good to know.

    There is also a section with maps of Scotland, the most eye-catching difference is there were many more railway lines in Scotland 115 years ago than there are now…


    London Olympics – Are You Coming?

    From my research blog:

    So are you coming to the greatest show on earth in London next summer? Or are you making a point of staying away? Perhaps even going to a rival sporting event?

    Answer my one-question survey below, and enter the first bit of your postcode, and a map will be drawn automatically, showing how the country’s enthusiam for tickets for the games varies!

    You can answer the question and see a live map of the results here.

    Leisure Notes Orienteering

    Summer Plans

    What I’m planning on doing this summer:

    3 June pm LOK Park Race Grovelands Park 5km
    5 June parkrun Hackney Marshes 5km
    8 June pm SLOW Park Race Battersea Park 5km
    11-21 June A wedding/Lakes/Knoydart trip
    22 June pm SLOW Trail Challenge Ham 10km
    26-27 June A stag
    29 June pm SLOW Park Race Tooting Bec Common 5km
    3 July parkrun (maybe) Hackney Marshes 5km
    3 July North Downs Relay North Downs 10km
    4 July LOK London Interclub Addington Hills 7km
    7-15 July Sweden training tour
    17 July parkrun Hackney Marshes 5km
    18 July MV London Interclub Ashtead 7km
    20 July pm SLOW Park Race Bishop’s Park 5km
    21 July pm DFOK local event Shooters Hill 5km
    22 – 31 July Land’s End-London cycling trip
    4 August pm DFOK local event Lesnes Abbey 5km
    7 August parkrun Hackney Marshes 5km
    8 August SAX Trail Challenge Sevenoaks 21.1km
    10 August pm SLOW Trail Challenge Richmond Park 10km
    11 August pm DFOK local event Bostall Heath 5km
    13-15 August Purple Thistle orienteering event
    16-22 August Hillwalking/Edinburgh Fringe
    28 August parkrun Hackney Marshes 5km
    30 August Urban Race Didcot 7km
    4 Sept Urban Race Sheffield 7km
    5 Sept Urban Race Lincoln 7km
    9 Sept pm DFOK local event Jubilee Park 5km
    11 Sept Two2Go marathon Lea Valley 42.2km
    18 Sept Urban Race City of London 10km
    19 Sept LOK local event Hampstead Heath 7km
    25 Sept Urban Race St Andrews 7km
    26 Sept District event Tentsmuir 10km
    2 Oct parkrun Hackney Marshes 5km
    3 Oct Urban Race Warwick 7km
    Leisure Notes Orienteering

    Review of the Year 2009: Part 1

    2009 was a year in which I started to do less orienteering (after 13 years in the sport), a bit more running, and a lot more cycling. It was also almost an injury-free year.


    The year started with a training score exercise in Aird’s Park, near Oban, on New Year’s Day. “Park” is a highly misleading name for the area, it was extremely physical with tussocks and marshes everywhere. Managed to finish second, but only because most of the good people misjudged the time back to the start and got penalties. I was up in the Scottish Highlands on the annual JOK New Year hillwalking trip, so the following day it was back to the Munros – and what a day. The four eastern Mamores climbed in cold and crisp conditions, finishing well after dark.

    The only other orienteering in January was two London street-Os – an LOK race in Hampstead and a SLOW race in Wimbledon. They were very hilly, and I got a late penalty at both. And also a weekend of city races – on the Saturday the second Edinburgh Street Race which I enjoyed even more than the first, especially as I didn’t get disqualified this time – and then on the Sunday, having travelled right back to London, it was up again to Lincoln for their own City Race, again the second time I have run it. Again, a great race, and even better than the one before. This time, we got to run right through Lincoln Castle – up the drawbridge, across the battlements and out through the gate. A race with a definite “wow” factor.

    On the summit ridge of Binnein Mor (5290)


    In February I was quite preoccupied with planning for the JOK Chasing Sprint, which was near Watford. A few chilly weekends were spent surveying the courses. There was also another SLOW street-O, at Kingston, where I again got a late penalty!

    Also, I got back up in the Highlands, for one day only. Sleeper to Glasgow, early morning train up, six damp hours in the hills around Loch Ossian (some snow, but a big thaw was on) and then back on the train overnight to London. I’m doing it all again next month.

    Finally, I got to use my mountain bike on “proper” terrain as opposed to the streets of London – a two hour lap of the “Red trail” singletrack at Bedgebury Forest in Kent – a warm-up for a weekend singletracking in Wales. My cheapo-MTB held up just fine, which was more than could be said for Chris’s hire bike.

    View down to Loch Ossian (5361)


    The first terrain orienteering of the year – BUCS in SW London. Oxford was organising it on SLOW areas. I went very wrong indeed at the individual race – probably lack of practice. The relay was a bit better but I was still a bit clueless. At least I was a bit better at the next SLOW street-O two days later, in Surbiton. Didn’t get a late penalty for once.

    The next weekend it was time for my first mega-cycle of the year – over 10 hours in the saddle, as I tried (and failed) to get to Eastbourne. My mistake, perhaps, was following the National Cycle Network route (21) strictly, even where it goes off the road to go up a bumpy, muddy track, only to rejoin the road a couple of km later. It did this many times. Some sections were very pleasant, such as the bit around Eridge. But, 140km after leaving Hackney, it had got properly dark, so I cut the trip short.

    One week later I was off on the bike again, this time taking the “official” road-cycling route to Brighton. I completed the 100km route in just over 5 hours, + a couple of hours of stops – slightly disappointingly seven minutes longer than last year’s.

    I also made a start on mapping the western extension to the City of London orienteering map, with a wander around the old alleys off Fleet Street.

    The month finished with a weekend in Wales, on the various MTB singletrack trails in Coed y Brenin in North Wales. Great fun, a lot of trails were done, including the Tawr and most of the Dragon’s Back.



    The fourth trip in four months to Scotland – on Saturday I ran in the Scottish Sprint Orienteering Champs at Stirling University. Afterwards I went for a walk up to the Wallace Monument – I’d been meaning to have a look around this for years. The following day I ran the Edinburgh Half-Marathon – the sprints having been a less-than-ideal preparation. The second half of my race was a lot slower than the first. I’m doing the full-marathon version this year, and will be preparing better!

    A couple of days later, and I had not recovered, but I ran anyway in the final SLOW street-O of the year, in Pimlico. I got around with two seconds to spare, and got my second best result of the series. Tim & CJ’s feast was excellent. Then it was back up to Scotland for Easter, but doing the JK Sprint in Newcastle on the way.

    Back in London, I cycled 75km to Cuckfield with Anna, the first of our joint training trips for John O’Groats-London in the summer. It was a busy weekend – on the 19th I ran in the Newham Classic 10K – it was a very local race for me, and cheap to enter, and the route past the Olympic Stadium looked interesting. Then in the afternoon more City of London map surveying, around Lincoln’s Inn – and I had my bike nicked! It had lasted only 18 months, although as it happened I was going to be getting a road bike for the long summer cycles anyway.

    Finally, there was the Varsity Match, which was just north of London and later in the year than normal – this year’s is in early March in Cornwall. The individual was in Epping Forest – always an enjoyable area to run on. The course was tough but pleasant, and my race was livened up when I spotted a snake slivering away from one of the controls near the end. It was warm enough to lie around at the finish and eat ice cream – summer was on its way!

    Dalkeith to Peniculk Railway Walk (5967)