01 October 2012


I love to walk and run, occasionally even ride the bicycle.  I record my workout with DailyMile.com and rely on my Garmin GPS watch for time and distance.  When a friend suggested that I earn some money for charity while running or walking, I heartily accepted the idea.  The app in question is Charity Miles, available for iOS and Android.  It got installed fine on my crummy Galaxy I Android phone.  I was so eager to try it I went out for a walk, after dinner, around 10 o'clock at night.  It seems easy enough to use.  You pick one of the three activities - Walk, Run, or Bike.  Runners and walkers earn 25¢ per mile while cyclists get 10¢ per mile.   After choosing an activity, swipe to choose a charity to earn money for.  There are just a few now but it's a good start.  So far I chose Feeding America, Habit for Humanity, Achilles International, and The Nature Conservancy.  Other options are World Food Programme, Pencils of Promise, The Michael J. Fox Foundations for Parkinson's Research, The Global Fund, Austism Speaks, and ASPCA.  Choose the charity that best suit your ideal, then off you!  One charity per activity, you can choose a different charity the next time you work-out.

You can pause the app then resume or end the activity.  You are then requested to accept sponsorship for your activity by posting to your Facebook account, and optionally to Twitter as well.  Many people hate the Facebook idea so much but I am fine with it.  Sure there are many issues with Facebook but flooding the news stream shouldn't be one of it.  I myself at most run once a day or walk at most twice a day, so that's just three posts per day.  Compared to people who go rapid-fire and post x number of YouTube videos within five minutes, my three posts are almost nothing.  Worst case scenario, you can set the FB app that does the posting to be visible only to yourself, but then you are not really doing the simple request Charity Miles expect you to help them with spreading the word about the program.  You also help advertise Charity Miles T-shirts but I don't think they make much money from the shirts.

I have a big problem with posting the results of my activities.  Remember my post-dinner walk at 10 PM?  I was so disappointed to find that at the end of the walk, it seemed my effort went nowhere.  The app constantly complained that there was no Internet access so it couldn't post my result.  The mail app and FB app did not have any issues.  I vaguely recalled that the app would not work over WiFi, so I turned off WiFi.  Still no dice.  Turned off GPS, too, nope, app still complained of no Net access!  Turned the whole phone off and then back on.  Kill the app and start over with accepting the sponsorship?  Turn WiFi on then off again?  That seems to do the job, I think.  Or is it turning on WiFi then off, then do some Internet activity, like checking email or logging into Facebook?  I suspect the app somehow not able to detect an Internet connection until some other app goes through first.

I still don't know the sequence of fiddling to get the app to submit its data, but I managed to have everything submitted, so far.  At first, I thought all my work went to naught since I couldn't send in my results.  Then I discovered the button in the lower left corner of the main screen.  It took me to all my logged workouts and a second chance at submitting the results.  It would be nice if there is a total of my mileage.  Or even better, for the few metric-centric amateur athletes out there like me, who prefer kilometers over miles, measurements in kilometers.  Of course, of utmost importance is that the app should just work, without me having to fiddle with the few settings.  Unlike the typical apps, I cannot just input data and try a different series of parameters.  Getting new data means walking another 30 minutes or whatever.  I love walking but not enough to walk again and again just to see how to fix an app.

Hopefully it is just a problem for old Android phones running Frozen Yogurt OS version.  Anyone want to buy me an iPhone 5?  {Cricket sounds...}  No one, eh?  How about just some feedback from users of Charity Miles on more modern phones and OS versions?

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