Curling, a Season in Review

Curling, a Season in Review

After trying to get my wife to watch Curling with me during the winter Olympics too many times, she purchased a Groupon for a Learn to Curl session at Chicago Curling Club. That was three years ago. In that time I’ve gotten the chance to do so much all because of curling. This next month will wrap up my third season and will also close one chapter in my club’s history. It’s been quite a ride overall but this year has been exceptional.

With our membership numbers shrinking due to not having a true club to call our home, I was asked to step-up and be a skip (Curling speak for captain). Not only was I going to be skipping, but I also was going to be bringing a few new members into the club. My mom, Linda; her good friend, Lori; and my brother, Christopher. To cap it off, they were also going to be my team. That at least took the edge off things; if we sucked I was only really disappointing new curers who wouldn’t really know the difference.

Leading a team on the ice is something I had never done. At any other club someone with as little experience as me would never get that chance. But that’s the magic of Windy City Curling. We’re a scrappy little club that does everything it can just to get our hands on any ice time, and look to all of its members to help out in any way possible. Ever since the USA took gold in the 2018 Olympics our tiny little club has been overrun with requests for Learn to Curl’s, corporate events, and rookie leagues. It’s been really tough to balance the growth of the club through these events while trying to keep our own members happy. Remember we want to curl too, not just teach!

While the first two leagues this season were self-formed teams, our “Championship League” is a draft. Again I was picked to be a skip so I drafted my team: one of my friends from the club, along with two new members. Unfortunately, I was going to miss a few of these games due to work, travel, and other bonspiels that I had planned. But at the end of regular round robin play, we were in second place despite only really playing a total of two games together as a full team. The team in first place was only ahead of us by one win, but they included one player that never thought she would get there: my mom. She just started curling this year, and even though she uses a delivery stick, she has turned herself into one of the best leads in the whole club.

Going into the final game for the championship (which had to be postponed by a week due to a broken zamboni :facepalm:), I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. We had just played the same team two weeks ago and got blown out. I really didn’t want that to happen again - not just for me but for my team and the club. What good is a championship game when it’s totally lopsided? Well, I got my wish. I’ll spare you the total play-by-play, but let me set the scene because it was something out of a movie.

Tied up in the last end, my opponent’s last rock was sitting two inches into the 4-foot, sitting shot. I have an relatively open hit to knock him out and win the game. We debate a bit as to how the last shot should be thrown and now it’s all in my hands. I throw, but the aim is slightly off… and that’s it. Instead of getting into the house, my last rock wrecks on the pile of guards up front and my season is over. I’m crushed.

Two seconds after that, I look up and see the other skip, my friend Eric, and his entire team celebrating. Including my mom. In an instant I go from lowest low to highest high. Am I pissed that I lost that game, of course. But how happy am I for my friends who just won? Ecstatic. I’ve always been told that curling is a social activity as much as it is a sport. I enjoy having a beer with my friends and competitors when I get off the ice. But it wasn’t until that game that I truly understood the bond that we have, not just as curlers but as a club.

With our club’s championship league completed, I turn myself to the next challenge: U.S. Arena Nationals. I was lucky enough to be asked to be part of the team that gets to represent our club at a national level event against 19 other teams from around the country. It’s going to be the final time that we as Windy City Curling get to compete in this event as we’re finally moving to our own facility this spring/summer. I’ll be excited, nervous, and just about every other emotion you can think of until we hit the ice for that first game. But when I do, then it’s just time to compete.

Bike Share Buddy 1.6 Update

I was able to sneak in a update for Bike Share Buddy mostly for iOS 12 fixes. First time I was able to pull off a release on the same day as iOS as well :)

`New Features

  • Added support for iOS 12. You now have to have iOS 12 in order to install this latest version of Bike Buddy. 
Bug Fixes
  • Updated (and removed some) third party dependencies to ensure better performance and a safer way of handling user data.
  • Change the default view of Stations from 5 to 15.
  • Fixed a bug where you could be prompted for “Always” location permission even though it wasn’t needed.
  • Fixed a crash for certain bike networks that didn’t give addresses for bike stations
  • Fixed a crash that would happen when searching for a new bike network.`

Bike Share Buddy 1.5 Update Released!

A quick update to Bike Share Buddy has now been published to the iOS App Store.

While as usual there are some minor fixes and changes there is actually one new feature supported, Siri Search Suggestions. This means that when you use Bike Share Buddy information, like what stations you are looking at, are being shared with Siri. This means that when you do a search in Siri this information can easily be surfaced even outside the Bike Share Buddy app.

Siri Search Suggestion with Bike Share Buddy
Siri Search Suggestion with Bike Share Buddy

While this is something that I had on the list of things to implement in the past it always fell down the list. But with iOS 12 being shown at WWDC and the huge focus on Siri it was time to jump in and get it done. How many people will actually use this? Who knows. But it’s nice to have a target to keep up with every year when Apple releases an iOS update.

Enforcing SSL with GitHub Pages

I have never gone through the trouble of making this website use SSL even though I know it’s the right thing to do. It’s an extra expense and I didn’t want to deal with setting it all up, renewals, etc. Lucky for me procrastination paid off.

GitHub has added support for SSL with Custom Domains! All it took was a quick DNS change and ticking a checkbox and it was complete. On top of that there is an “Enforce HTTPS” option now as well which makes it even easier for end users.

A Fresh iPhone with your Health/Activity Data

Don’t be suprised, I got an iPhone X.

It was always my policy when I got a new phone to start it fresh. No backups, no restores, just login and start downloading the apps and set the settings that I need. This allowed me to essentially clean up the junk that we all get on our devices after using them for a year or two.

The last few iPhone’s that I upgraded to I was forced to do a local iTunes backup and restore for one main item, keeping my Health and Activity data. With the release of the Apple Watch, and a plethora of 3rd party apps, which sends all of it’s data to Health app I have built up an immense amount of data that I dont want to loose. The problem is that with this comes all the old apps and settings from my previous device. A couple days before my iPhone X got delivered I decided to do some homework and see if there was a way around this. Keep my data and send it over to my new device but without the cruft of the old device.

My first option, do everything on the device. I found this writeup on MacStories on an iOS app called Health Data Importer. This seemed like the easy way out. A 3rd party app that just exports everything from the Health database, let’s you save it as a Zip file and then you import that on the new device. I bought the app and the export worked just fine but I could never get the import to work. During the import step it always crashed. My guess, too many data points and it was all trying to be written at once. When the export process was happening it was counting the data points and my count was well over 1,000,000. So with that being a bust I’m back to the drawing board.

The second option I found seemed a lot more promising right from the start. I found an old (2015) writeup on how to only transfer Activity and Health app data to a new iPhone and noticed right away that it was based off of an iTunes backup. What actually happens is that you install a utility, on your Mac or PC, from a company called Decipher Tools. While the sounds like a shady place I figured I would give it a shot. They have a tool called Activity Transfer which uses the iTunes backups on your local machine. Best part, it’s free :)

So with this Activity Transfer tool installed on my Mac the process looked like this.

  1. Do a local, encrypted backup of my iPhone 7 to my Mac. An encrypted backup is needed to make sure the Health and Activity data is there.
  2. Open Activity Transfer and walk through the steps to locate the backup and enter the password to get it unencrypted.
  3. Activity Transfer does its magic and essentially strips everyting about the backup file except the Health and Activity data.
  4. The new “clean” backup it saved back into the iTunes backup location
  5. Plug in the new iPhone and do a restore with the new “clean” backup

After the new iPhone restarts and I completed the setup process I had a brand new iPhone X that had all of the Health and Activity from my iPhone 7 with no other changes from a stock iPhone. Exactly what I was looking for.