Running Part 2

Two years ago I blogged that I had started running. That lasted for four weeks and then I stopped. I started again last year…well I ran once last year and then that was it. Back in 2011 I’d even gone so far to pick up some proper running shoes which really made for a more comfortable run but I just fell out of the habit.

So it was mid July 2013 and I was seeing some great posts on Instagram and Twitter from people who were out running which was pretty impressive as we were in the middle of a heat wave. I was inspired so it was out with the running shoes to give it another go. The problem I had was I live on the crest of a fairly small hill but it was enough to kill every finish to a run. Secondly I didn’t run enough back in 2011 – once a week at best so I never improved, the head went down and I gave in.

The plan this time was to head off to a flat area and build up gradually until I had a bit of running in the legs and the hills wouldn’t kill me. So the first run saw me trot down to the Forth & Clyde Canal and complete my first run. This worked a treat. I also signed up for a RunKeeper training plan – run 5k in 8 weeks. The plan was to keep the variation with each run and also gradually build up the distance.


6 weeks on and it seems to be working. I’m managing out 2-3 times a week and improving the distance all the time. The plan I’m following has been good but by far the best ‘find’ has been running along the canal. A lot more pleasant than running on pavements and far less hilly. I’m really enjoying the running too – great to get outdoors, hopefully improve fitness and also catch up on podcasts and tunes. My initial problem was with recovery as I found the next day was torture for my legs but proper stretching, warm up and warm downs have really helped.

This mornings run was the best by far. A slight chill in the air but blue skies all round. I should have been doing a 2.5 mile run but I just kept going and managed to do over three before pausing and turning back. Not fussed about pace at all as the first few runs I couldn’t manage a mile without pausing so it’s nice to see improvement. I’m now looking forward to Autumn and Winter runs. I’m hoping to keep this going but no ambition to run any 5 or 10k’s, just want to keep my fitness up and help maintain my current weight…or maybe even lose a bit more.

Stop Start Nexus

The original Google Nexus 7 is now 12 months old and has been replaced by a new version that has upgraded much of the tablet – retina screen, faster CPU, more RAM and a camera. Considering it will be only ¬£20 more than last years model that’s quite an upgrade for an affordable tablet. I’ve had my Nexus 7 for just over 9 months and while it’s been a good device the overall experience makes it hard to really recommend an Android tablet.

One of the big selling points of Android 4.2 was Project Butter. Finally Google had addressed underlying performance issues so that there would be no stutter, scrolling everywhere would be smooth and Android could finally be viewed as an equal to iOS from a performance perspective. 9 months on and I have to say that there is still a considerable performance difference between Android and iOS.

On the Nexus 7 the performance issues have been exaggerated by an overall slowdown over time. This has been well documented and I was seeing it too. I’d launch Chrome and it would sometimes take 20 seconds just to launch and show the 2 or 3 tabs I had open. I tried many of the cleaner tools that are in the Google Play store and while they had an impact for a week or two the system would eventually fall back to it’s usual slow self. Thankfully Android 4.3 has enabled trim support and this has certainly had an impact over the last week but there is still a noticeable lack of smoothness throughout Android as a whole and I’ve got no faith that the stuttering won’t get worse again over time.

Can Google keep the new Nexus 7 from the same fate? At the moment, it’s very fast. Powered by a hefty 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, it flits around the OS with ease, and I rarely encountered stutters, jitters, or problems of any kind. (Except scrolling. Cool job Google.) – Google Nexus 7 2013 review

Even one of the most glowing reviews of the 2013 Nexus 7 acknowledges that it still has performance issues at a fundamental level. Well played Android.

When things go wrong
Android’s flexibility is fantastic, especially when compared to iOS. However when things go wrong it feels like you are dumped back a decade when trying to fix it. Just this week after applying Android 4.3 I hit a major issue – I couldn’t update any applications from the Google Play store. Worse, the error message was gibberish.

Google Play Error

I tried switching off and on but it made no difference. To the internets, where it was clear that lots of people suffered the same problem and were stumbling through various fixes to try and solve the problem. I first tried the following fix:

  • Open system settings
  • Go to Applications (or Apps) >> All
  • From all apps select Google Play Store >> Clear Cache and Uninstall updates
  • Again, from All>>Download Manager >> Clear Cache and Data
  • Finally, All >> Google Services Framework >> Clear Cache and Data
  • Now, rerun Google play store.

No dice. All applications would fail to update. So then it was onto the next fix all the while thinking that this felt like trying to fix an issue on Windows 95.

Things aren't going well if you are having to use this screen
Things aren’t going well if you are having to use this screen
  • Go to system settings>> Accounts>>Google>>remove your Gmail account
  • Now from settings>>Apps>>All> Force stop, Clear data and cache for Google Play Store, Google Service Framework and Download Manager (like in method 1)
  • Now again go to settings>> Accounts>>Google>>Add your gmail account
  • Restart your android and then accept all the Google terms and setup Google settings
  • Rerun Google Play Store and update or install your app.

That almost fixed the problem except I couldn’t update Google Maps as it failed with the same error. Sigh. I tried again this morning and still had the same problem. So I wiped all accounts from the Nexus, wiped data on the Google Play Store and Google Services Framework applications, rebooted the Nexus and then added my primary Google account. Finally I could update Google Maps. What a farce. This isn’t the first time I’ve had issues that forced me to clear caches from applications to get them back running properly again and it’s one of the reasons I don’t recommend Android tablets to friends and family as the support time is far higher than with iOS.

Application availability, especially for tablets, is still stronger on iOS than it is on Android. 99% of the time app’s will release first for iOS and generally be the better version. This hasn’t really improved over the last 10 months. I’m sure for phones it’s different but I can only compare what I use which is iOS and Android tablets. The exclusives are to be found on iOS and there is still a richer ecosystem on iOS when compared to Android.

Should I buy a Nexus?
That depends on who you are and what you want to do. Want to customise your device, root it, make it your own and happy to mess around when things go wrong – the Nexus 7 is great and the new hardware looks superb for the price. For everyone else I’d recommend iOS without any hesitation. Superior experience, great performance and devices that in general just work. I still fire up the Nexus from time to time but I’m really back on the iPad even for reading despite the size and weight. Speed wins.