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.

 

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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.

The Journey Begins – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS… (or nuts)

If you haven’t seen The Hobbit, STOP READING NOW. I’m not certain I won’t have spoilers…

However, if you’ve read the book a bunch of times (or even seen LOTR) there really isn’t a lot of big PLOT spoilers to be spoiled.

The-Hobbit-HERO-2I really enjoyed the movie. Being that he’s made the book into three movies, it stopped about where I expected it too, being the completion of their escape from the Misty Mountains, but before their adventures in Mirkwood.

I watched it in 3D and the new framerate and to be honest, I didn’t think much of it – I mean it still doesn’t seem like either of those technologies significantly adds to the viewing pleasure.

The movie itself – as I said it was good. I already feel like you should watch this series before you watch LotR, but I’m not sure how that will hold up through the trilogy. One of the biggest things I noticed was the omens and portents of what is coming in LotR. They were eventually made clear (to us, not to the characters), however fans would pick up on them a lot earlier. For non fans, they do get explained, but a little later (so the fans can lord it over the others for about 30 mins). As the Lady Galadriel says “Something is moving in the dark and in the shadows.” Saruman already seems a little out of touch, or is he being duplicitous.

It had a lot of humour (but I noticed myself giggling a lot more than most in the cinema, so maybe it was just me) and was overall pretty well paced, with only a couple of moments of boredom. I have read some comments about the songs, but I quite enjoyed the action of “That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates”. 

Uninvited Guests
Uninvited Guests

Dwarves… Ever since reading The Hobbit (think I was about 8, as I know I read LotR later, when I was 10) I have been a huge fan of dwarves. In RPG and computer games, if given the choice I would play a Dwarf. I was always sad that both the LotR book and Jackson’s movies had such small parts for dwarves.

Thinking about it though it does make sense. Dwarves have never really engaged with the world, content as they are to mine and mind their own business. Sauron’s influence on the rings of power didn’t really work on the Dwarven Rings either, certainly not as he had hoped.

But, YAY, three movies of serious dwarf 🙂

It was a great movie, I can’t wait for the next two and then to watch them all in order….  Hey Lucas, maybe you should have got Jackson (or Tolkien) to pen Eps 1 to 3….

Random Review – Nike+ SportwatchGPS

The Nike+ SportwatchGPS in Blue (this is the one I have)

The last of these running related reviews is the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS. I mentioned at the end of the last review that I had purchased the watch and I’ve been running with it for about 3 or 4 weeks now.

It fits nicely on my wrist, but I recommend anyone with thick wrists try it on first as I am almost on the last hole, and I think my wrists are about average. Its light and comfortable, and not overly bulky. The face is easy to read, even in sunlight or when running.

Functionally as a watch its very basic. It has a clock and an alarm. Enough to use day to day, but if you plan on travelling or you expect multiple alarms you should look elsewhere. However as a running tracker I’ve found it performs great. The GPS reception is as competent as the iPhone that I was using, and because of that, the run tracking is very accurate.  As a fallback, the watch can also link to the Nike Shoe Sensor. It will also link to some heartrate monitors if you have one.

The display cycles through a list of useful stats, distance, time, clock, pace throughout the run. It can do intervals and laps either automatically or by slapping the screen. This slap needs to be quite firm, a simple press like a touch screen phone will not register. The slap is also used in the stopwatch mode to view lap times.

The USB connection at the end of the watchband (and the colour Jolt)

It connects via USB to your PC/Mac and special Nike+ software. The software pushes the workouts to the Nike+ website, charges the watch and also updates the GPS satellite data (the more recent this data, the faster the GPS lock). The software also lets you adjust settings on the watch (interval times, data display cycle). The USB plug is actually at the end of watch band under a little cover. A great idea that does mean that the strap can’t be replaced as you’ll sever the USB cable.

And this is currently my biggest concern for the longevity of the watch. The watch has a plasticy rubber strap, and in my experience as you take the watch on and off these kinds of bands eventually snap. Does this mean I’ll need a new watch in six months or a year? In its defence, its been many, many years since I owned a watch with such a band, perhaps they have improved.

The battery life isn’t anything like a normal watch (they can last years), I seem to get about a week out of it. I’m not sure how much of an effect going on an actual run affects this duration as GPS functionality is passive. So a week with three runs of about an hour each.

Overall I’m happy. I can ditch the iPhone again and run with my watch and the little Nano again. And its not bulky and odd looking for use in between runs. I recommend considering it, especially if you use the Nike+ website already.

(oh and it has a run reminder function, but I haven’t used it)