Getting the Boot…

 

Terminator2poster
Hasta la vista Baby!

There is nothing more maddening to me in the online world than subscription services, especially those ridiculously expensive services offered to cyclists, runners, and triathletes. The big two services (as far as I am concerned) that compete head to head on features are TrainingPeaks and Today’s Plan (including Stages Link).

Over the years I have been a paid subscriber (and beta tester) to the aforementioned services (and several others) but probably will not be renewing my memberships any time soon. My reasons for discontinuation of my subscription(s) are simple as follows:

  1. Too expensive for the features offered.
  2. Too expensive compared to stand-alone software applications, especially free open source software like GoldenCheetah.
  3. Too expensive given that useful features disappear at whim by the software providers.

I think you can see the picture here. Too expensive are the key words, especially given the questionable value of the services offered today. I have been beta testing Stages online version of Today’s Plan called Stages Link for some time. Today, without notice, I was unceremoniously booted out of the Premium version of Stages Link, including the training plan that I am right in the middle of. Obviously my work as a beta-tester was NOT valued and any expectation of further cooperation as a beta tester is null and void. Either I pony up $270 Canadian annually or “hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.” Either I pay through the nose or get hosed – my choice, your prerogative Stages?

Oh, and by-the-way, you SUCK as a company Stages.

If my fellow cyclists only knew the real rate-of-return of failed hardware (i.e. power meters) from your company, they would quickly ride away, heading for the hills pronto!

The good news is that I just happened to have saved the aforementioned training plan in TrainingPeaks (TP) and am able to continue along my merry way within the free version of TP until further notice. Sometime in the near future Golden Cheetah (GC) will offer the same (and better) features than anything currently online or in standalone applications like TP’s WKO4.

In the words of an infamous Hollywood personality, “Hasta la vista Baby!”

Lightworks: Slightly Ahead of Our Time

After a recent melt-down of my trusty MacBook Air, I was faced with the unenviable task of doing a full MacOS install and reinstallation of all my apps. Unfortunately, I was not even able to boot into recovery mode and do a full system restore from my Time Machine backups.

Sometimes a clean slate is like a second chance to do something different for a change.

Although I have purchased many professional software tools over the years for photo, audio, video editing and graphic design on the Mac platform, I also utilize a FreeNas server for network attached iscsi storage, and a Linux box for Resourcespace development. Therefore, I decided to take another look at the various open source and freeware applications that would suit my aforementioned needs as a photographer and videographer. Running the same software across a Mac laptop and a Linux desktop can be a real positive experience – the best aspect of all is that it is FREE!

I have recently downloaded and installed both Da Vinci Resolve and Lightworks as my primary video editing software of choice along with the venerable GIMP for image editing. Today, I would like to briefly talk about my experience with Lightworks.

I am no stranger to Lightworks (having used it in its early days) and its unique interface and design. Nevertheless, coming from Apple’s Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), Lightworks is a bit of a steep learning curve nonetheless. Without burying┬ámy head in the Lightworks manual and referring to online help, I managed to create a short video from scratch in about twice as long as what it would take me to do in FCPX. Most of that time was spent just trying to figure things out via trial and error. With a little time, I will get up to speed ­čÖé

This is by no means a full review of Lightworks, but rather a brief summary of my own user experience with the video editing application. In the final analysis, I am favourably impressed with the latest incarnation of Lightworks, even if the free version is crippled to outputting to Vimeo or Youtube at only 720P. That is sufficient for my needs as a blogger, but woefully inadequate for a professional editor. An upgrade to the Pro version is in order for the professional user.

I am going to continue to work with Lightworks over the next thirty days or so before I move on to experiment with the capable Da Vinci Resolve. Decisions…decisions. Here are a few screenshots of the application in my workflow.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.33.45 PM
Lightworks Audio View
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.33.10 PM
Lightworks Log View
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.31.47 PM
Lightworks VFX View
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.29.58 PM
Lightworks Edit View

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The Consumer: Unwitting Guinea Pigs

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Apple Inc files a patent for a method of calculating wind resistance for a cyclist, one factor that could be used to calculate a rider’s power output without a dedicated meter

This patent by Apple will most likely get buried and never come to fruition. It is interesting that the concept (based on Newton’s Third Law) has already been developed into a product (http://www.ibikesports.com) since about 2006.

Today, most popular commercial power meters are based on some sort of┬ámeasurement of direct force applied utilizing various hardware, and software algorithms. The actual cost of developing a direct force power meter (DFPM), including research and development (R&D), is actually minuscule compared to the retail selling prices. Don’t take my word for it, just ask DC Rainmaker, considered an expert in the field.

As consumers, we are paying through the nose for a direct force power meter from companies such as SRM, Stages, Quarq, Pioneer, 4iiii, Rotor, PowerTap, and so forth. The strain gauges used in DFPM’s were originally developed for the nuclear industry several decades ago, and are relatively┬áinexpensive. The claim that R&D is expensive has some merit, but every company out there is piggybacking off each other and using the abundance of data that is already out there in the public or commercial domains. The personal power data that cyclists eagerly post to sites like Strava, Training Peaks, Today’s Plan, etc., is most likely being repackaged and sold to other commercial interests who develop powermeters and other cycling specific products. Big data is big business.

So, what is my point?

Consumers are the guinea pigs upon which technology is developed and beta tested on.

Much of the hardware and software that is purchased by the consumer, especially niche products like power meters, is underdeveloped (i.e. released as final product, yet still in the alpha or beta stages of development) and buggy until several reincarnations down the road. By then, companies have already moved on to the latest and greatest, and the consumer starts the process all over again.

The hardware failure rates of DFPM’s is very significant (again, go ask DC Rainmaker), and something the consumer is generally not aware of. Likewise, we are all aware of the software issues that plague us almost daily in the “new is always better” mentality of hardware and software development in the cycling world.

Stop this madness!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.