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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

After a week of skiing, here’s what I was up to this past weekend!

1) The Never Ending Train Ride

Friday night we made our way back from the French/Italian Alps, ending our ski trip and kicking off a weekend at home in Paris.  But what should have been a simple 3ish hour train ride ended up far more.  I knew it was trouble when the lady nicely explained that half our train was missing.  Where did it go?  Nobody knew, but when it arrived in Geneva – it wasn’t there.

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So we had to go meet it…45 minutes away…at some random station in the middle of nowhere.   So everyone piled into half a train, which was non-ideal. Of course, when we got there, the other half of our train wasn’t there yet.  It was still an hour away.

Which brings me to someone clearly failing that high-school question of: If one train leaves Geneva going 150MPH, and another train leaves Paris going 200MPH, where and when do they meet?

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The answer? Not where they should.

Eventually the other half of our train came, and in the middle of nowhere we completed the great migration.

Except that wasn’t the end of it.

See the normal terminus of that route is Gare du Lyon.  But for the first time in 80 years, the tracks would be closed this weekend for work.  So instead we had to route to Gare Est.  But unlike updating your Uber app for a new destination, the train can’t route that way.  So that minor 3KM difference in destination resulted in a 45 minute re-route around Paris at speeds I could run faster than.

Eventually we got home around 1:30AM.  Blah.

2) Put together my NAS server

You may remember back a few months ago I put out a post outlining all my photography goodness.  As part of that I talked about the little storage server that I used.  Well, this weekend I refreshed that server, and decided to move it a bit.

Previously that storage server would sit at the Studio, which worked great in theory, but poorly in reality.  The problem was that I would be at the Studio during the day, but at night I’d be at home.  The last thing I wanted my laptop to do was copy dozens of gigs of data during the day to the server while I was working on it/WiFi.  Whereas at night, that’d be a much better time.

So I bought a new Synology server with four disk bays.  I then stuck 2x10TB drives into it in a simple mirror.  This gives me storage for now, but expansion for later.  These particular drives would work fine for my purposes, which is largely archival.  Also, I was mostly trying to find drives that were readily available on Amazon France, limiting my choices a bit.

Of course, the majority of the battle of getting this setup was getting it out of my mailbox. My @#$@##@ La Poste guy (again) stuffed more boxes in there than designed for.  So I actually had to cut it out using a knife.

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Meanwhile, the drives were delivered to the restaurant next door.  Apparently Amazon decided they couldn’t fit that in the mailbox either.

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At least the slip of paper was nice and clear.

The actual setup of the Synology unit was great.  So much cleaner than the WD My Cloud I was using.  Plus, it has way more options for backup/recover than that WD unit too.  Woot!

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This system will sit at the house, and thus allowing my laptop to quietly backup each night, and also enabling The Girl to get access to photos more easily when she wants to make photo books and stuff (since she usually does that at night as well).  Certainly the WD Cloud thingy was available over the internet, but it just takes forever to skim through tons of photos that way.

Oh – and I love that it can execute background copy tasks from hard drives and/or network sources without me having to have my computer do it. Sounds silly, but right now it’s doing a 4TB copy from the old NAS box without me having to be in the middle of it.

3) Tour de Town

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Saturday we grabbed some Velib’s and hit up all sorts of places around town.  For bunch we hit up one of my favorites – Holybelly.  Can’t wait till their new (much larger) place opens sometime this year.

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While waiting for our table, we walked a little ways to check out Cycles Laurent, one of the most famous bike shops in Paris.  It’s got cool stuff, though I don’t tend to go to it often since it’s quite a ways from me and my local shop is only about 200m away.

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We’d continue our wanderings back from that area of Paris through a market or two, and a few other stops at boulangeries and random stores that looked interesting.  Kinda the best way to spend a Saturday?

Later that night we’d head back out again via Velib.  This time headed to ramen.  But of course, the route would take us through the Louvre.

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We luckily managed to snag bar spots at the ramen spot, giving us a great view of the ramen cookery.

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As always, the best 12EUR spent in the city (for three courses!).

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Afterwards we jumped back on the Velibs and headed up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc.

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From there it was down to the Eiffel Tower for some night pics.  Though, my phone wasn’t producing the greatest pics at the time, so we’ll just end with the one above.

4) Riding to Versailles

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Late Sunday morning my Dad and I prepped the bikes and headed out to Versailles (by bike).  This meandering round would almost follow that of the Paris-Versailles running race, and is one of my favorite rides.  It’s got the most substantial hill (+ cobbles!) you’ll find in Paris baked into the inside of it, as well as the pretty forests in between Paris and Versailles.  Plus, who can resistant ending at the gates of Versailles?

I put him on my road bike, and then I rode my triathlon bike.  Putting folks on a triathlon bike in the city who don’t normally ride TT bikes is a recipe for splat-bug.  He had brought his Edge 800 bike computer, but I also stuck the Wahoo BOLT on there, since I saw no good reason to let a previously attached mount go naked.

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Meanwhile, for me, I was using an Edge 1000 – since I forgot to recharge both my Edge 520 and Edge 820 upon returning from travel.  I also had a Fenix 5 and a Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, both on separate wrists.

While it was overcast for the way out, it was at least rainless.  Given we just had a week of beautiful blue skies while skiing – I’m not going to complain about a bit of clouds.

He rocked up the cobbles of The Vibrator without issue, a route that was used in recent Tour de France arrival routing.  Plus, a favorite of many locals.

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Here we are arriving at the golden gates of Versailles.

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As always, it was packed with visitors. Thankfully we didn’t have to go in – phew!

5) A very brief update on Arofly

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I’ve seen a small uptick in requests for information on the Arofly ‘power meter’ which I discussed a few weeks back in an unboxing section.  Some folks were wondering what came of it.  This is a tiny $129 unit that you attach to your tire valve on your wheel, it’ll then measure power, speed, and cadence.

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In short, it’s broken.

The longer version is that when the company sent me the unit to try out, they warned that was a distinct possibility and that if it occurred they’d send me a new one.  The problem would manifest itself as displaying speed, but not displaying cadence or power.  And sure enough, that’s what happened.

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Still, that gave me enough of a window into the product to already form some opinions.  For example, I was able to use the app to try that out and get an understanding of it.  While the company sent me a new unit (which arrived into my US forwarding box on Friday, and I’ll have here by the end of the week), I’m going to really struggle to find any reason to recommend it.  And that’s for a few specific reasons:

A) The unit *requires* that you utilize only their app to connect to it, and only their app will display data from it.
B) Said app must be open and running the entire time.  While they include a cheap handlebar mount, if it’s raining you’re out of luck – because the app cannot be locked in the background, it’ll end the data recording.
C) There’s no method to export any of your ride data from the app.  It’s in their app and without any method to get it to other platforms like Strava, TrainingPeaks, or heck, even MapMyFitness.

All of which ignores that it doesn’t connect over standard Bluetooth Smart or ANT+, or whether or not it’s even accurate.  Keep in mind that Strava gives you a relatively good approximation of power already, so if you want a cheap solution – that’s great.  Same goes for the PowerCal (at $99), which I’ve shown gives you a great approximation of power (surprisingly accurate aside from sprints).  And again, that’s transmitting on open ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.

If at least the unit recorded the data in the background on their app and allowed you to export an industry standard .FIT/.TCX file at that price point I could (perhaps) see the value of it.  But at this point, I think it’s a non-starter.

With that – thanks for reading folks!

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36 Comments

  1. Steve

    Jsut wondering, if you’r already working on the Garmin 930 hands-on?

  2. Hey Ray!

    Sorry about your train ride! Also, you’re making me second guess my near future purchase of a NAS.
    I was thinking of getting that same version of WD NAS over a Synology DS216J (both being 2-bay).
    I was under the impression that both were similarly featured, and the WD was more “user friendly”. So now I’ll have to do more research before making a purchase.

    Bummer about the aerofly … maybe the can fix those things?

    • Having long had the WD (and a previous edition before it), I’d agree that the WD is pretty user friendly.

      But I’m really impressed with the Snology at this point. It’s just working so well, and the more I use it, the more features I’m finding within it (be it 3rd party apps/plugins), or just native features. I’m really tempted to pickup the DS216J now and basically create a sync’d copy over the network to the studio for the day to day folders I use. Effectively a geo-cluster, except more of a file replica. Super cool stuff.

      Arofly could absolutely do everything I noted above in software…today. I’ve given that feedback to them privately, but hopefully a few others can re-enforce that here (or tell me I’m off my rocker). I just don’t see what market (who buys?) there is for a consumer power meter that requires a phone on your handlebars and more importantly where you can’t send the data anywhere else. I’d wager that 98.3% of people who want/know what a power meter is, have Strava or something like it.

    • ekutter

      The Synology NAS definitely looks intriguing. I’m still using WHS 2011 to nightly back up all my machines, except it doesn’t like my newer machines with the newer disk configurations. Not to mention the 2TB limit. Such a bummer MS didn’t continue it. Quickly glancing through the DS416 and the DSM software, looks like this could be the perfect replacement for whole machine nightly backup’s. Being able to get access to old versions of files is my main interest as One Drive gives me great current version backup. Any experience with nightly backups, how long it keeps them, etc?

    • Camillo

      Hi Ray, from what I’ve gathered from their web site, they need the phone to provide information about climbing. So, their app collects data from the thingy the phone sensors and combine it to derive power. Unless the phone can rebroadcast an ANT+ signal they cannot share the information live, but they could upload it or make it available afterwards. Or they could “send it back” to their thingy and rebroadcast… but I guess it’s not easy.

    • RE: Sync with OneDrive/Dropbox

      I’ve setup Sync with Dropbox already – and it pulled down my 300GB of Dropbox files to it super quick – sometime overnight. Helps that I have quick interwebs. ;) I’ll be setting up OneDrive sync tonight, given I’ve got about 100GB of stuff there too.

      RE: Nightly backups yet

      I haven’t played a ton with that feature yet. Right now I’ve got it setup to backup my laptop continuously, though it’s taken a while. It still has 260,000 files to go. No worries, it’ll get there. As for backing up the unit itself, I plan to sync it with Amazon Glacier once I’ve got everything all sync’d. I’ve got a bit of general re-organization I want to do first, so I figure I’ll spend half a day or so to do that, and then sync. Just to minimize upload times.

    • RE: Arofly

      True, I think my complaints fall into two categories:

      Category A:

      – Unable to put app into background (almost all apps these days support this)
      – Unable to export data in any way

      Category B:

      – Unable to broadcast directly from unit to BLE app/device of my choice
      – Unable to use it with ANT+

      I (in the general me as a reviewer sense) can live with Category B being left off, if the price is right (sub-$100) and it’s accurate. But Category A being left off is a non-starter for I think just about everyone.

    • fitz

      I’ve been using a DS21xj for a few years now – rock solid, and the software is very stable. As for being user friendly – the GUI’s pretty nice and most of the daily stuff is really easy to do + there’s a set of apps to do things like video playback, photo browsing etc.

      You can also set it up to backup to a 3rd party (like Amazon AWS Glacier), plus there’s a ton of other extensions.

    • Thomas

      Here to re-enforce that feedback: Data being caught in a proprietary app just doesn’t make sense.

    • S. Savkar

      I have been using Synology equipment for several years, and actually have two set up between two homes of mine for back to back mirroring plus using hyper backup as well all over the internet.

      It is all really neat, and whether you jump at the four disk versions (which I had two of for a while) or the 5 drive versions, they all come with great hardware and software to boot.

      Have set up synologies for friends as well. Everyone loves them. I use them for all my photography, as well as storing important documents, as a music server, etc.

    • Graham R

      Ray – Re Glacier – You may want to check out the amazon cloud drive – its similar, cheaper, and in my testing just about as fast for both restore and backup (i have about 7TB stored online at the moment)

      I am using Arq (per user not per computer) license to backup my windows and mac devices to Amazon Cloud – Arq also supports glacier and just about any other cloud provider you can think of and encrypts offline before uploading to the cloud.

    • Yeah, I have a few TB up on Amazon Cloud Drive as well. Sorta an experiment I did last year sometime.

      I’ll look back at it again. I’d probably prefer that over Glacier, simply because it’s easier to browse from the web if I need something quick. Whereas Glacier is a bit more labor-intensive to get back.

      I’ll probably be starting the sync this weekend. Have a bit more shuffling to do tomorrow to reduce dups and such.

  3. Thijs

    Synology is so complete I’d never buy anything else ever again. Even if you’re still in doubt, they have online demos of their DSM operating system (just google Synology DSM Demo) so you can really get a feel on how thinks work.
    I bought a 2nd hand DS213 a couple of years ago and it serves me very well. As a Plex server, automatic downloader, syncing photos from my phone as soon as I have WiFi (regardless whether that’s home WiFi).

    I also have a scheduled backup FROM the Synology to an external drive of the most important stuff (Photos, documents) which runs every night without fail.
    Backing up our laptops would also work, but we simply don’t use them ever since smartphones started being decent enough to browse on.

    Sure, these are all pretty much the tasks a NAS is designed for, but Synology’s software makes it sooo easy, AND the machine can actually take all this abuse, including running Plex, despite being 2013 hardware.

  4. Marc Simkin

    I have a pair of Synology. I have them about 100 miles apart. Using the Synology cloud apps, I’m able to get one Synology to back its self up to the remote one. I am also able to have the Synology connect to my OneDrive, Dropbox, Amazon cloud drives to sync files.

    I also use the Synology as my VPN servers, to get into both my networks, when I need to.

    Ray, you should get a second unit for the studio, and set them up to sync with each other. This way, you will always have the files you need, close to where you are.

    • Yup, exactly – looking at doing just that!

    • Craig

      That’s what we do at work. Two synologys (admittedly rack station versions) cloud sync and a large 1TB google drive synced as well for fast transfer.

      The other amazing option although requires a little more setup is to install ‘docker’ and use the package crashplan to backup your NAS to a cloud service for like $5 a month. Unlimited storage so we have around 14TB up there. A utter disaster recovery. But two NAS at different locations means you in a good place as it is.

      When’s this Fenix5 review coming. Been waiting patiently :)

    • Fenix 5 review coming up this week (likely later on Thursday).

    • S. Savkar

      Other thing I recently sprung for and am loving is a Thunderbay enclosure which has TB2 (or maybe 3) which I threw four 2TB drives into I had lying around from an old unused NAS.

      Using software raid 5 on my MAC, allows me with Lightroom to have safe local storage of my precious photo archive.

      Then use with time machine for backup to my synology at the home with hyper back up to back up to the synology off site.

      A bit overkill I admit, but super paranoid about disk failures or other failures and losing data.

  5. Ray,

    Enjoy the NAS. I’ve had one of those for about 2 years now and absolutely love it. The cloud sync tool is great to allow you to backup to Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, etc.

  6. Karl

    In my little home NAS, I decided to go with drive 1 doing a nightly rsync to drive 2. I figured that was a bit safer than a RAID-1 mirror, as the drives are more “independent”. YMMV.

  7. peroni

    Given Arofly is only going to estimate power readings ala Powerpod I would not waste much time with it.
    Instead and interestingly a new powermeter similar to Stages started to appear on aliexpress, name is XCADEY and can be found starting at 200€ including shipping.
    Any volunteer?

    • Thomas

      And there is also still the guy of the Tempo powermeter who failed to get his project funded, but on Facebook claims that he has the intention to re-launch the campaign. He says he has a good bunch of promising test data, and that would be interesting to be put on Ray’s trial.

    • Alex Marr

      Any update on the XCADEY?

    • No plans for XCadey at this time. Somewhere else I posted about it, but in short their own marketing and related materials show horrible accuracy (the sample files they shared). So given they can’t even cherry-pick half-way decent files, I’d be concerned about what accuracy might look like for the rest.

    • Tim

      I believe the XCADEY is the same product being sold on eBay in the US under the RondeSport brand (also found at link to rondesport.com). I do not own one, but emailed them some questions. The price point is attractive. The unit only has ANT+ communication at this time. They are working on an app to connect via BLE for firmware updates. They “may” also try to output data over BLE once they get finished getting the app communicating with the device over bluetooth. This leads me to think it’s pretty half-baked right now. I’m also not sure if it can do a calibration yet. Just not much info out there on it. See Ray’s comments on the data that he reviewed & accuracy.

      All things considered, I am waiting to see what happens in the market after Eurobike and Interbike. I am thinking the 4iiii product is worth the additional cost for a known level of accuracy and support. I’m just waiting to see if there are any new price or product announcements from the shows. Then I’m using my CleverTraining points and DCR discount.

  8. Jim Flesch

    Where did u get the saguaro jersey; I want one

    • A longtime friend gave it to me over a decade ago when I first got into cycling. My first cycling jersey.

    • Todd

      Love the jersey! Was one of my first two jerseys. Well constructed.
      Have run into two people wearing it just this year in Freiburg, and Ireland. Chased a guy down on my bike a couple years ago in Montreal and got a matching picture!

  9. Andrew Price

    +1 for Synology NAS

    Ray – there may be lots of these out there, but if you live in the apple world Carbon Copy Cloner link to bombich.com is a killer back up and bootable clone app – WAAAYY better than time machine and it has saved my bacon so many times its not funny.

    The other thing that is great about a Synology NAS is how easy it is to set up your own cloud and not have the security issue of your data on someone else’s server – use a password with hieroglyphics and a 2-stage authentication protocol like google authy and you can have secure access and add edit or delete from any where there is internet access and no storage limits or ongoing fees.

    Just 2 things I have learnt and love – thanks for all the great reviews and wisdom – Andrew

  10. int_27h

    Hello DCR,

    I was intrigued by this arofly and briefly checked their app.
    It is total scam!
    The only sensor they use is a cheap tyre pressure sensor (TPMS), which is polled quite often for attempting to measure the cadence.
    All other data is collected from phone (gps for speed and gradient, HR if paired)
    And on top of that information they use some guesstimates to approximate power.

    You can check the code actually, it is visible in plain text, e.g:
    assets\www\js\bleControl.js

  11. Update #4 – Looks like an old school Cactus Cup jersey you were sporting on your training ride and also during race week in PHX. Specialized and RD looking to make this THE early season MTB event. Already good this year and about to get better.

  12. SteveB

    17:31 on friday evening at Gare cornavin, waiting for my train home. I could have bought you a beer. Next time

  13. Michael

    re-route around Paris at speeds I could run faster than.
    shitty English Ray!