Review – Fitbit Charge 3

Dear Fitbit,

Look I know it’s an activity tracker, not a full on sport watch/GPS thingy, but I have a few concerns.

First up – I need a way to pause or turn off the tracking. I ride a motorcycle and this gets detected as a 35km “outside bike” in 30 mins (with no change to heart rate mind you!). This even happens when I’m not wearing it and have it in my pocket or in my backpack. Heck this would be a pretty awesome “exercise” to have stored, but it also adds floor counts and there is no way to “fix” all this data, skewing my stats for 5 days a week. Never mind the time I rode nearly 200km and this was counted too…. the Fitbit was in my bag the whole time!

Second concern – So I went for a run. It was about 10mins into the run and nothing visible on the device that it had started tracking (I later discovered it had tracked an exercise, but not the GPS). So I manually started it (and it tracked the GPS this time). And at some point it turned this off automatically. And then started to automatically attempt to track on and off a few times, I gave up. Very inconsistent.

On the plus size – it’s small, light and not too hard to read (when I have my glasses on, which isn’t when I’m running) and I like the sleep tracking (though with the earlier problems, I’m not sure it’s accurate anymore).

I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone even half serious about exercise (I’m not sure that counts me in) and more for someone who needs to get up and do something and this would be a good device to track that.

It has been an interesting foray into smart devices and made me more keen on the Apple Watch I will likely replace this with soon.

Thanks

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Ninja – First proper ride

So on the 2nd I got to head out for a much longer ride on the Ninja. I got up really early to beat traffic and heat. This past week or so has been really toasty in Western Sydney with temps above 35 for days. So I was keen to be on my way back before mid afternoon. I rolled out of the driveway at 0600, actually I bit earlier than I expected. It was already light of course, and the sun would be well up by the time I rode up to Windsor and up the Putty.

I headed along my old commute (as of the 14th I’m working in a new location, so my commute will be different – shorter and just straight west along the M4) up to Windsor. The bike was really easy along this. Some filtering was practiced, with the bike not seeming much fatter than the Daytona, so that’s excellent.

I fuelled up in Windsor, putting 8L into the tank. This was brim full and I reset the counter. One of the main things I am looking for in this bike is a range that is more than the Daytona’s 200km, and hoping for something like 350km (400km would be nice) from a tank.

So up the Putty I went. One of the first things I noticed is that at low speed it is actually easy to turn (like carparks and such) due to the better clearance from the bars to tank at lock. Deceptively so, for a heavy bike (but one that weighs pretty much what my VFR did).

And that’s probably the main thing I want to say. HONDA you should make a VFR 1000. This bike really felt like the VFR position and riding style, but with a chunk more power and torque. It sure doesn’t turn as easily or as aggressively as the Daytona, but then it’s not expected too. It doesn’t even quite feel as aggressive as the VFR, but it does seem to turn just fine for me. And I’ve lost all that “he’s riding a Daytona, he should be riding fassssttt” pressure too. Once I started to get out of Daytona habits and replace them with new Ninja style, the ride started to go better.

I stopped a couple of times for some photos and even managed a ride by video, which I hope to edit and get up on YouTube before too long. I got to Grey Gums in about an hour, which seems about right. Had one moment – while doing the video I was doing a U-Turn and it started to topple. Stuck my leg out and there was a moment I thought it might fall. Gave her a big heave and all that gym over the past 18 months paid off! Up she came. Safe.

At Grey Gums Cafe

Rode home via MCAS in Penrith where I order the Givi V47 topbox and rack. They might even be here today, now that’s service, considering its just after New Year. This will mean the Ninja comes a possibility for a work trip to Canberra in two weeks time. And then back home by 1100. Not a bad ride out. Total distance was 230km, with two bars left on the gauge. So I think 300km is hopefully normal. It might also increase slightly as the bike has now only done 2880km, and I don’t know what the age of the fuel and what sort it was. I remember the VFR added an extra 50km after 12,000km and the Daytona clearly increased its range when I switched from 95 to 98 octane.

Givi V47 NN Tech case I’ve ordered

Overall, while I still miss the Daytona (heck I still am heart broken over the VFR!) I think this was a good decision. With the topbox giving me all weather and lockable luggage and the extra range, the cost of the bike was only the stamp duty (about $200-300), I think I’ve done alright. I certainly enjoy riding it. I can use the Kriega bags, secured to the topbox rack if I need more than the 45L in the topbox (unlikely).

I do wish I could have afforded the latest one with all the bells and whistles, but to be honest I had none on the VFR and only added ABS (oh, and the slipper clutch and quick shifter, hmmmm) on the Daytona. I would have thought it would at least have engine temp (the ’13 onwards does) but I don’t think even the ’19 gets air temp reading. I do have ABS, so that’s something.

Rolling 🙂

I’ll get this to its first proper service before too long, keep an eye on the tyres and continue my slow pick it apart and clean it and the bike should last me 5-10 years. See what happens then!

Deed is done.

The decision was made, the transaction complete.

The iMac has been replaced with….

…..

….

 

..

 

another 27″ iMac.

Well I bet that was a surprise.

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Can you tell which is which???  (ok the default wallpaper and the smaller keyboard give it away)

Went out yesterday and bought it from the Apple Store. Using education prices I got a discount and also a set of wireless Beats headphones. JB Hifi could beat the Apple Store prices, but not by much (about $50) but couldn’t throw in the headphones. I didn’t particularly want the headphones but since they are free and worth $400 (retail), why miss out on it. I figure I could use them with the iMac when trying to ignore the Mrs watching her shows on the PC next to me……

I picked up the base 27″ which means a 1TB Hybrid HDD and a basic i5, with a Radeon 570 card. A massive step up in performance when compared to my late 2009 iMac. Not going to win any races, but fine for me. Heck, now I have the first 4K (well 5K) display in the house (our TVs are full HD, not 4K). As long as I can study and I can run videos at full screen, I will be happy (actually I haven’t tested that yet).

First impression was – it’s lighter – I discovered as I picked it up to walk out of the store. Eventually, when getting it home my first impression was the screen is really nice. Initially the brightness was right up, but it was actually the fineness of text and lines of dialog and windows that made the biggest impression on me. When I eventually connected the Dell 27″ 1440 monitor I had with the older iMac, yes, the screen is much nicer in the new iMac.

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Here it is, all set up as dual screen. The Beats are on the desk to the left of the iMac. This shot really hides the difference between the Dell and the iMac.

The next impression is speed. It’s certainly quicker than the older model. I have decided that once its all up and running and I can confirm that everything I want is either moved or backed up, I am intending to wipe and restore the older one. I’m sure it used to be quicker than it is these days.

I decided not to do a restore from the Time Machine. I thought, its time for a bit of a spring clean. So I’ve moved email and photo archives and my current study over and very little else. The rest is available either from backup, NAS or the cloud.

Several hours later I realised that I forgot to copy the iTunes folder and set that up on the to connect to the store on the NAS. Of course, this is after I packed away the old iMac. So now I have all my music downloaded from Apple Music and stored on this iMac, and a big folder on the NAS with nothing pointing to it. Might have to work through that in the next few days. However, I did learn about browsing my Team Machine backup so the old iMac can sit away getting dust as everything I would need is here on the backup disk…. Time Machine scores YET again (really, its one of THE BEST THINGS about OSX).

Of course, in the middle of all of this, one of the NAS drives has died, so I don’t want to do too much copying and working on the NAS until I replace the drive. Got a couple inbound at the moment. Half think I bought an extra last time, but can’t think where I stored it if I did.

Overall, its like the old one has just been refreshed. I don’t think Mrs has even realised, and probably won’t, until she spots the box from the new one under the stairs.

 

So 2017… how did it go.

IMG_2269I thought I had written one of these last year, but I didn’t. It was 2015 as I left Canberra.

So.

About Bikes

IMG_1016The Daytona does stirling service in a task it’s not really designed for… my daily commute. It’s had a couple of problems that have been fixed and just ticked over 50,000km. I have decided to replace it, but not sure when or with what. The front runners are still VFR and Ninja 1000. I also look forward to the possibility of a Sydney-Phillip Is MotoGP trip in the coming year… will I still have the Daytona?

I did get out on the track, one less successfully and a second was very rewarding and I do intend to do some more. I got a couple of hours fun up the Old Pac as well. I’m still slow by comparison, but I enjoy it. Sadly its currently in the shop over my Christmas break as the shifter stopped working properly and of course the parts supplier had already shut for the holidays.

IMG_2302I also discovered after a morning with a Bonneville, that I basically love riding, no matter the bike. There are some bikes I’ve ridden that I’ve liked less than others, but I’ve still liked the actual riding.

About Bike (Bicycles)

Err, they’ve mostly stayed in garage and the suburb, nothing to see here, move along….

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About Bytes

This has mostly had two focus… the limping on of my iMac and several panics as it has almost died. But it lives on as a study device, if not really anything else.

Otherwise it has been a few reviews of random stuff like AirPods and Scala Rider gear.

I have also talked about how I study without paper (mostly).

About Study

Nearly the biggest thing in my life this year has been the switch to Masters and two Practical placements that have encouraged me to think I can actually be a competent Primary Teacher AND I enjoy it. I’m currently in the 4th Study Period of the first year. I am on track to finish the whole thing by about March 2019.

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Scala Rider Freecom4 – first 24 Hours

I have finally gone out and replaced my Bluetooth headset. I was tempted by the Sena series, however, I have seen lots of problems on the internet with them. I have used the Scala Rider, mostly successfully, for a few years now, and a quick search didn’t bring up any problems, certainly not to the scale of the Senas.

scala-rider-freecom-4-duo~699913The Freecom 4 is new to Australia – when I went looking about a month ago they weren’t in any of the stores. They are the more budget series and miss out on the Mesh grouping set up that the more expensive PackTalk and SmartTalk get. I never ride in groups, so it was of little interest. Besides, the last time I rode with someone else with a Bluetooth, they had a Sena anyway.

I think that they are basically my old Q3, repackaged. Software a little updated too. First impressions opening the box was, smaller and slimmer. I bought the Duo as it wasn’t much less than a single SmartTalk and meant I could attach it to the second helmet if my kids wanted to come riding. And with discounting, wasn’t a whole lot out of my pocket. It turns out it was an astute decision.

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The mount has changed significantly. It now just slides up into the helmet. This was super easy the old unknown brand my wife uses, but in my AGV was a little more difficult and required some cutting of the pad around the bottom of the helmet. In both cases, there was plenty of cord length and the application of a couple of velcro pads and it was installed. This setup is going to make it super easy to remove at a track (sometimes the track staff don’t like things attached to your helmet, at least at SMSP anyway). It does come with a stick on version as well, but I’m not a fan of doing that.

Switching them on and connecting them to various devices was easy, and they start and connect MUCH faster than the older ones. I’m also not required to fuss about in order to have the music play when I hit the button. I suspect that was caused by several phone OS updates with no Headset software updates, but it was nice to have that working properly.

First ride, a commute, and initially the music was very quiet. I remembered on arrival at work that I hadn’t turned up the Bluetooth volume on the iPhone, so it was much better on the way home. The speakers aren’t going to set the world on fire and do seem to struggle when the music is very full (?) like crescendos and big parts of the song. But they are clear and loud.

The next day the Mrs and I rode into the city and apart from a delay a couple of times, when the connection had gone to sleep, they worked excellently.

Overall I’m very happy and would certainly recommend them as an option. It’s also fantastic after the past 3 months of trying to keep my earbuds in my ears as I don my helmet and not being able to answer calls etc.

Marvel’s Agents of zzzzz….

marvels_agents_of_shield_640_large_verge_medium_landscapeOk, this was going to be a review, but I think my title sums up my opinion pretty quickly. I don’t know about you guys but I find it pretty boring.

It’s great to see Ming-na on screen again, but that’s not enough for me to keep watching. I got through two and a half episodes, but not interested enough to finish the third one.

The stories are pretty simple, there’s little tension and it seems to have little imagination in it. The Fitz-Simmons characters grate and the action man guy is awful. Still I suppose they are supposed to comic book folks, but that doesn’t mean one dimensional these days.

So I won’t be watching it. Still watching Heroes anyway, and there’s no way MAoS compares to the twists and performances in that show.

PS3 PlayTV

When I purchased the PS3 one of the things I thought to use it for was for recording TV. I didn’t have a decent solution for that (except an old VCR) for the digital channels. The PS3 has the PlayTV attachment to allow you to watch and record TV. It even allows you to watch while recording or to play a game while the PlayTV records. 

It’s large for what it does. About the size of three DVD cases piled on each other. It connects to the TV aerial at the rear and to the PS3 USB. This could be a problem on newer PS3 as mine only has 2 USB ports (not sure how many the older ones have) and I was charging the 3D glasses and the controllers on them. 

THe setup is pretty easy and using the free to air channel guides broadcast as part of the digital signal you can get about a week in advance for your programming. Either by the guide or by manually adding times. Recordings can be repeated or extended as required. If a programmed record messes up it will even try to find a repeat to record. Not really successful here, but perhaps in other countries?

I’ve been really happy with it, and with the 500GB PS3 I have been able to hold a fair bit to watch and not worry about space. I did have one movie record with a lot of stuttering but it hasn’t reoccured. It’s hung a couple of times, but mostly its can be slow if you follow up something that uses the HDD with something else that also uses a big chunk off the HDD, for example you delete a movie and immediately try to watch another. The playback or menus might not respond for several seconds as the system finishes one task before commencing the other. It may also be trying to buffer (through??) the PlayTV, up and back on the USB2 port?? not sure of the reasons, but something to watch out for.

I have found a process to copy recordings from the PlayTV to the PS3 and then to an external HDD. However this is limited to sub 4GB files as the PS3 only talks FAT32 to external drives. Even a hour episode at HD quality records at about 5GB. I will need to see if there is a setting to convert HD to SD as it records which may help. The process is fine, as long as your recording is smaller.

If you currently have another PVR solution, I wouldn’t bother. If you have a PS3 with a good size HDD and no PVR, its a good solution. If you have one of the new 12GB PS3, I wouldn’t bother. A HD movie can be 8-9GB. 

Tomb Raiding

I think I noted somewhere that my most favourite franchise after BattleTech is Tomb Raider. I am sure many are aware that the new game was released to pretty good reviews. I’ve been eyeing the prices until I found one I was comfortable and picked it up over the week.

268-tomb-raiderI well remember the hours I puzzled away at the original and the enjoyment I got from it. I do have all of the games since, but have only played bits and pieces of them but due to other commitments, never finished another. I enjoyed what I did see of them.

This one has been no different than that… a lot of fun. It’s early stages is not so much about puzzles and figuring which combinations of ledges to jump to, but I’m hopeful that at least a bit of that will come. This early stages is more about surviving.

It’s tough without her trusty automatics though. Trying to line up a charging wolf with a bow is hard work. I think I’ve died every possible way so far except falling too far. I’ve been choked, mauled, crushed by rocks, burned, shot (arrow and bullet) …  lol.

Having come from a WoW background and the strongest TR memories being the first one in 1997, the graphics have improved… well enormously, lol. On the PS3 the game is very fluid. I hear of some breaks on the PC version, something to do with quicktime events, but I don’t see this on the PS3. The graphics might be weaker, but really I still enjoy the first ones, so graphics isn’t the be all (and never should be).

Compared to my most recent The Walking Dead game, this is a lot more of an action game and less of a choose your story one. Subsequently there is a lot more to do, and Lara is more directly under your control.

I highly recommend it so far. It’s no shoot em up, thankfully, but I do hope things calm down some and I can spend some serious time leaping about caverns and exploring the island, at least for a little bit 🙂

It’s Elementary, Sherlock.

An interesting coincidence has occurred in my viewing. Recently I discovered the BBC short series “Sherlock”, a modern interpretation of the Sherlock stories. Produced as 2 (so far) series of three 90 minute episodes it has Sherlock doing his deduction work in modern day London. Dr Watson is a recovering (retired? reservist?) British Army doctor who has served in Afghanistan. Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch who we will see as the villain in the new Star Trek movie and is the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit. (Note, the original Dr Watson was also a British Army doctor who served in Afghanistan, as at the time of his novels, that’s where the wars had been in Sir Conan Doyle’s time…. 125 years later and the British Army and others are there again!)

sherlock Then, Channel Ten has started showing “Elementary”. This is a US produced show, with Sherlock doing his deduction work in modern day New York. This time Dr Watson, played by the lovely Lucy Liu, is a Doctor who has given up practicing, who acts as a live in buddy for recovering addicts (who have rich parents). Elementary is broadcast in the standard 45min episodes setup.

PILOTBoth shows are high quality productions, and both have their mysteries wrapped up by the time the credits roll. Sherlock however does have some story elements that carry through the episodes, something that is missing from Elementary. Sherlock also seems to use the original material as a basis for much of some of the episodes, cleverly rewritten to take place in the modern world. The Hound of the Baskervilles episode is a good example of this, quite different plot to the original, yet still the same. Elementary doesn’t seem to be using much of the source material, apart from the lead characters. However I’m certainly no Sherlock aficionado so could well be on the wrong track there.

I am enjoying both, but Sherlock is a level higher than Elementary. Elementary seems like the other shows, like Numb3rs, The Mentalist, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and other crime dramas, where a oddly smart person solves crimes for the police (or as one). While a bit eccentric and very smart, Holmes in Elementary seems not as far different from the other “genius” in the other shows. However Holmes in Sherlock seems to be operating in a totally different world from everyone else, with a level of intellect almost unfathomable.

The longer episodes also lend the BBC the ability to have more intricate puzzles and more twists than the shorter episodes. Carry over characters (Moriaty, Holmes’ brother Mycroft, the landlord, the medical tech) other than just the police contact, Holmes and Watson also let us get more attached to the other people in the Sherlock series.

Overall I enjoy both, and will keep watching them. However I hungrily await the next episode of Sherlock, whilst I watch Elementary when I don’t have higher priority shows to watch (like Sherlock, lol).

Sherlock has 2 series and is confirmed for a third.
Elementary has one series completed but I’m not sure if a second has been confirmed

Walking with the Dead

Steam Sales, aren’t they almost the most evil thing on the planet???

I recently read a few reviews of The Walking Dead game.. I had looked into it before, but was mostly turn off by needing to wait for the other episodes. They’re all out now and the game was on sale in Steam. The final draw card, it’s Mac compatible. Here take my money 🙂

the-walking-dead-game-bannerI’m not usually a fan of RPGs on the computer, I either find myself lost in the open world wondering what I should be doing or frustrated at the restrictions the game has placed on me. TWD isn’t exactly an RPG though more of a storybook with options (like the old Chose Your Own Adventure or Final Fantasy books), and sells itself partly on the premise that your decisions affect the game.

Let’s look at that for a moment, I can’t think of a single game where that isn’t the case, seriously, even Pong has consequences to your decisions. They might be simple cut and dried obvious ones, but they are there. Is the difference that these consequences might not be obvious and may not come into play until a while later…. Well no, plenty of games are like that, think of Starcraft, your decision not to pursue a tech tree might make it difficult to fight off your opponents later. So I’m putting it down as sales hype.

So skipping the sales talk, I’m enjoying the game. It’s not rivetting, but is an interesting distraction. I do find the controls a little a hard, not because there are a lot, but because it sometimes hard to figure which is going to used in the next bit of the game – and when those zombies grab you or some guy is punching your face, you need to quickly click the right part of the screen. It would be fine if the scroll wheel on my Naga was accepted, but it’s not so I have to use the touch mouse for that, but then it’s slow across the screen making it hard for the time critical clicks so I find myself having to switch mice all the time…. ok maybe this is a problem of my own making!

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The game does have some twists and turns and there are definite points where you basically have to choose between two people – one will live, one won’t. Saves only occur at the end of each chapter (There are several in each of the 5 episodes) so be mindful if you have to quit suddenly.

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You do bump into people that are in the series as well. I’ve met the asian guy and the old man vet as well so far, but you aren’t playing in that story. You exist in the same world, as one of the other groups of survivors.

I’ve completed the first 2 episodes so far. Interestingly, at the end of each chapter they show the percentages of what choices people have made on some of the big decisions that occurred in that episode. So you can see that 54% of people chose X, which may or may not be the same as you etc.

Like I said, an interesting diversion, a good game to have played through.