John Galea's Blog

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Pokemon Go Quick start

Unless your living under a rock or in the middle of BFN you have seen people playing or talking about Pokemon Go. It’s a new Android/iOS game that is quickly spreading. I’d heard enough people talking about it I decided to have quick boo and see what it’s all about. I’ll try and tell you a bit of what it’s about as well as some basic quick start ideas. First and foremost realize I am new and still figuring it out. So if I got something wrong, please bear with me.

Pokemon Go is what is called an augmented reality game. The board you are playing on is a map of the area you are in.

The first thing you need to do is sign in. Now you can use your Google account, but I am not sure I see a reason to do that. There is no social side to the game so why grant access to Pokemon Go to all your Google contacts etc. So you can create what is called a trainer account. Just be patient the servers are stupid busy and it may take a while. Just keep trying.

On the map are what are called Pokestops. Think of these like Geocaches. The idea is to go out and explore and find these. Your board allows you to see Pokestops (and other stuff near you).
What isn’t on the maps anywhere is other players. It’s like your the only one playing it. Why they didn’t add in a social side to this game is befuddling to me.

When you get close enough to a Pokestop (the blue almost @ like symbol) you can click on it and swipe the item to collect things from the Pokestop. These can be potions (to restore your Pokemon after battle, more on battles in a bit), revive (to wake your Pokemon if he has been knocked out in battle), and other useful stuff.

For the first part of the game you simply wander around and keep going into the Pokestops collecting stuff. These Pokestops have unlimited stuff in them. You can go back to them over and over again (with a slight delay in between). You are not competing with anyone for what’s in the Pokestop. Just walk around collecting stuff. All the while you are getting experience points. You rise in levels in the game.
Eventually you will get to the point where your bag is full, but this may just mean that everything in the Pokestop you have all you can carry, so don’t just give up keep hitting up Pokestops. You continue to gain XP even when your bag is full. You can increase the size of your bag if you want to spend real $$s in the Shopping area of the game, in game upgrades.

Now while wandering around you will feel a vibrate. This will tell you are near something, a Pokestop or a Pokemon. Pokemons are just like the old trading cards. You capture them by throwing a ball at them. These balls are collected at, you guessed it, Pokestops. You can collect many of the same Pokemons. This first view (called the Pokedex) shows you which Pokemons you have. You can sort this in a variety of ways by clicking the bottom right hand corner. Sorting by name will show you your duplicates.
The second view (called Pokemon) shows you the individual Pokemons you have.
Each time you capture a Pokemon you get experience points (XP), Stardust and Candies for that Pokemon. The higher the CP of the Pokemon, the harder it is to catch, and keep. They often get caught and wiggle there way back out. You can increase you chance of catching and keeping the Pokemon by using a Razzberry and/or a Great ball.

You can not trade Pokemons with friends, but you can transfer them (give them back). You get candies back you can use to evolve your Pokemon. There’s not much point in having more than one of each Pokemon, and having a bunch simply provides clutter. Candies are needed to evolve a Pokemon but you only get candies for a particular Pokemon by capturing or transferring a Pokemon of the same kind. A pokemon that is in the same evolutionary chain uses the same candies. Before you decide to transfer the Pokémon back, be sure it isn’t a higher CP/HP than the one you already have. Every now and then you may find one that has already been upgraded and has a high HP/CP (hit point combat point, more about these later). Don’t take too long to capture that Pokémon or someone in the area may get it before you do.

The Pokemons can be evolved or powered up. You are asked if you want to do that the minute you capture a pokemon. Don’t bother. Save it to upgrade a couple Pokemons to help you get them as powerful as possible as quickly as possible. Powering up costs Stardust. Stardust is general so save it again for powering up a few Pokemons. On the screen for the Pokemon you can see how many Stardust or Candies it takes to upgrade your Pokemon and how many you currently have.
This link shows the max CPs a particular Pokemon can eventually get to.

There are also eggs, which hatch into a Pokémon. To hatch one go into your pokemon list, slide over to eggs and you can set an egg to hatch. It is placed into an incubator that you have. To hatch an egg you have to walk about. Once it hatches low and behold you have a new pokemon. You won’t know which one until it hatches. Don’t try and trick the game by driving, it knows the difference. Biking was successful at tricking it some of the time. Likely based on speed. I can think of no reason why you wouldn’t want to always keep eggs in however many incubators you have. You gain experience points by hatching eggs as well as Pokemons.

Speaking of driving, one of the things about this game is it encourages people to get out and explore around. But unlike other apps like Waze that makes sure you are the passenger before it lets you interact with it while driving, pokemon makes no attempt. So if you are stupid enough to be playing pokemon while driving, well it will let you.

After wandering around for a while you finally will get to the point where you have reached level 5. Your now able to go onto the next phase of the game. Battles and gyms. The CPs (combat points, think experience in fighting) as well as the HPs (hit points) you see on your Pokemon tell you how much damage it does in a battle. This is why you want to upgrade your Pokemons. How far you can upgrade your Pokemon will be limited by your level. Evolution of the Pokemon is limited by the pokemon. This chart shows the Evolution path of the pokemon.

The white bar indicates how far you can Power Up your pokemon at your current player level. Notice I am almost at the top of this Pokemon at my level. Researching shows this Pokemon can go all the way up to 2184 if your player was at a high enough level. As you get towards the top it seems to cost more and benefit less (in CP/HP).

I read an interesting trick. Save up all your evolves. Then use a Lucky egg (in your items). For the next 30 minutes you get double XP points. So do a bunch of evolves at once, go to a gym, hatch eggs do whatever to get XPs for 30 minutes and you can move your player up in levels quicker! I did this and earned over 13000 XP in under 1/2 an hour. I also used a lure to bring Pokemons to me.

Pokemon can be played on more than one device, in fact I see nothing that would prohibit you from working together as a team to move up in the ranks quicker.

Pokemon loves battery, don’t plan on heading out and being away from a plug for long and playing Pokemon Go. In an hour on an iPhone 6 it dropped 33%!

For an app in this day and time, I am shocked at how replete the code is of social media. No sharing on facebook, nada. Did I mention there is little to no social side to Pokemon? And given how obsessed we are with stats, there are shocking few in the game. Don’t look for your battle win percentage, or how many balls it generally takes to catch a pokemon, nada.

And finally after a couple of days … your allowed to explore the gym. This sets a whole new level and drives how you play the game. Gyms are scattered around the map. Don’t go looking for a search utility or a way to list gyms, nope, wander around and find them. Gyms are defended at a particular moment by a particular pokemon, and a particular team (well unless it is an unoccupied gym). Gyms for your color (team) you are participating in defending, so you supply one Pokemon which you can select.

Gyms held by another team/color you are attacking and supply a Battlegroup of 6 pokemons. Before you start a battle compare the Pokemon defending it from a CP point of view. Slide across and you can see all the pokemons defending a gym.
When you start a battle with the defender you just simply tap the screen like a lunatic. Each tap is an attack. You do damage based on your CP/HP. You will see the health level of you and of your opponent on the top. If you manage to loose, that’s ok your next Pokemon steps up and takes over, rinse and repeat until you are out of Pokemons from your group of 6 or you defeat the defender. There is a secondary attack I am still figuring out.
Defeating the defender knocks down the gyms level. Defeat enough of them and you can take over the gym. You get experience points for winning battles. Sadly nothing for loosing:) Once the battle is over you will have a variety of Pokemons that will need your help. You need to revive them (the were knocked out), and then heal them with potions. And then your ready to do battle again. Potions and revives are found at Pokestops. Here’s a great article on all of the items in Pokemon Go, free and bought with real $$s.
Beating one defender gets you 100 XP and takes away 500 prestige from the gym. Beat 3 and you get 350 XP and takes away 3000 XP. That’s a huge hit to the gym. Beat all defenders and the gym becomes vacant. Go back in and you can leave your Pokemon at the Gym. This then becomes your teams to defend. Your pokemon shows at the gym (and is no longer available for you to battle until the gym is defeated. In your Pokemon list you will see a little gym symbol showing it’s at a gym. Here you can see two of mine, the Vaporean and the Kingler. Once at a gym you can not evolve or upgrade them. And I do not see a way to recall them either.


When gearing up for battle it’s important to have upgraded the right Pokemon with the best potential, stamina, hit power and defense. This link helps you compare them. For attacking you have a team of your Pokemons that will do the attack so you will need to upgrade/evolve a few. They can be of the same Pokemon or different Pokemons. The benefit is each has there strength and weaknesses, so making a team of upgrade/evolved different Pokemons has it’s advantages.

There is so much unrealized potential in this game, it’s already gone viral, but the question is does it have staying power? With some improvements I can see it for sure. Already people are using the game to host flash mob based parties where they all use lures and it’s like chumming the waters. It’s a Pokemon frenzy.

The game and the app right now are buggy. I get flat out crashes on an iPhone 6, times where the game registers me walking but ignores any input and LONG periods of complete outages. Not minutes, hours. Here you can check the status of the Pokemon Go servers.

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Training with a heart rate monitor

I’m a bit of a weekend warrior, I like to mountain bike. And I have always looked for ways to ensure I am at least maintaining my cardio endurance and hopefully increasing it as the season goes on. For a long time I have used a heart rate monitor to help this process. There are lots of kinds of heart rate monitors that I have covered over time on this blog. In the end THE most accurate heart rate monitor is a chest strap. It also as it happens, tends to be the least comfortable. When you are pushing up a hill breathing heavily the strap around your chest restricts your breathing. And sometimes the chest strap can come loose and slide down.

At this point I have three heart rate chest straps I use:
1) Polar H7 chest strap that broadcasts only on Bluetooth low energy. This can talk to my Polar A300 for excellent data recording, or to my iPhone running whatever app you want. Polars own app called Polar Beat can be used to send the bluetooth data to both Polar Beat and the Polar A300 watch. It’s reasonably comfortable, and for the most part stays in place. It runs on a replaceable CR2032 and from within some apps you can see the battery level of the heart rate monitor (I haven’t had this long enough to comment on battery life). Accuracy is good as long as you properly wet the contacts. The electronics snap into two clips on the chest strap. They seem firm enough to hold it in place.

2) Wahoo TICKR chest strap that broadcasts on both Bluetooth low energy and Ant+. I love this flexibility and it can broadcast to all of my Garmin devices as well as to my phone at the same time, or my Polar A300. Ant+ can broadcast simulataneously to as many devices as you wish. The Wahoo TICKR is oddly designed in that electronics clip into the middle of the strap meaning the electronics are being pulled by the strap. The TICKR is by far the most comfortable of the chest straps I’ve used and stays nicely in place. It run on replaceable CR2032 battery and you can tell the battery level from a number of apps on the phone (I haven’t had this long enough to comment on battery life). Via the Wahoo Fitness app you can even update firmware level. This is the first time I have ever seen this.

3) Garmin Ant+ chest strap. Now that I am on an iPhone this is of little use (My Samsungs had the ability to receive Ant+). It’s always been accurate anytime I have run correlation runs. It’s also the least comfortable, but is well designed and rarely moves on the chest at all. It runs on a replaceable CR2032 battery and gets something like a year battery life. It interfaces best with Garmin devices, which as it happens are my favorite bike gadget.

I also have a Scosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor that goes on your arm and picks up the heart rate optically. This is by far the most comfortable of the heart rate monitors I use and my favorite. The Scosche broadcasts on both Ant+ and bluetooth low energy so is very flexible in terms of what it can talk to. It runs off a rechargeable battery and gets 6-8 hours of battery life.

And now comes the hot topic of accuracy. What is accurate enough? What are you wanting to do with the heart rate data? These are personal choices. When I first started using a heart rate monitor I used it only to get a more accurate count of the calories I burned on a ride to ensure I was working on endurance. Calories burned is a simple calculation based on length of exercise and your average heart rate. If this is all you care about then you ought to go for the most comfortable heart rate monitor because as you will see in a bit accuracy at each and every data point is not all that important in that it does not dramatically effect the average heart rate, and so does not effect calorie counts. Each app calculates calories with their own magical formula. Comparing calorie counts between devices, or between apps is frivolous because you have no idea or control on what algorithm it uses. So choose something (an app, a device whatever) and just stick with it. One of the things I do like to have is a complete picture of my entire exercise in a week. So if you wear an activity tracker (I have a Fitbit Blaze and Charge), you will need to see what data inter operability options there are. Preferably automatic. I use Garmin connect, Fitbit and Endomondo. They all share data to one degree or another and ends up with a complete picture of my exercise in one place, well actually two Endomondo and Fitbit. Be careful if you use multiple devices/apps that your not double counting your exercise. Generally speaking these can be cleaned up manually if need be.

I started to have some suspicions that my Scosche was becoming inaccurate which frankly was what prompted me to look at this topic again. So I started out with an over 3 hours bike ride and used my Polar H7 logged by my Polar A300, as well as my Scosche logged by my Garmin Edge 305. Using dedicated devices to do the logging (instead of a phone app) gives you much better data for crunching numbers. Apps like Endomondo are less precise about how often data is logged. For example during a 3 hour ride I saw sampling rates averaging once per 3.8 seconds (Vs once per second like clockwork for the Garmin, and Polar A300) and at worst when the phone was busy doing god only know what of 17 seconds. Interestingly enough it makes little to no difference on the average heart rate, and thus no difference on the calorie count. If you were using an app to alert you on max heart rates then this might be something you want to worry about. I saw similar sampling rates for Endomondo running in the foreground and backup on iOS and on Android by the way.

As you can see after an initial period the two tracked reasonably well. Crunching the data showed the two were within 10% of each other 97% of the time. That’s not bad correlation. And in the end it only effected the average heart rate by 2.4 beats per minute.

Calorie count is just one reason to wear a heart rate monitor. More serious athletes keep an eye not necessarily on the BPM but the zone your heart rate is in. Now being off by 10% at 180BPM doesn’t sound too bad but translate into BPM and thus into a heart rate zone and you have a bigger issue. Looking at the same data and changing the threshold to how often was the heart rate off by 10 BPM and you get a more troubling 10% of the time. And this is with the first 15 mins out of the data.

Another reason to keep an eye on heart rate is to watch to insure you are staying within a min/max. I use a heart rate alarm on my Edge 305 to insure I don’t spend too much time maxing out my heart rate. I either slow down, control my breathing or flat out stop. Being off by 10% again makes this difficult.

So now let’s have a look at a comparison of my Polar A7 logged by the Polar A300 and my Wahoo TICKR logged by my Garmin Edge 305. Now this is impressive.
Now this is what I call correlation. In the whole 3 hour ride the two were only off by 10% a mere 9 data points (seconds) in over 3 hours. Impressive. And if I change the threshold to 10BPM (instead of %) there are only 11 data points where they differ. It’s worth noting that wearing two chest straps in a bumpy sport like mountain biking can lead to the two just bumping into each other which may explain even the minor differences.

So all in all, give some thought to what you want to do with the data, and use that to choose how accurate you need your heart rate monitor to be and how much discomfort your willing to endure to get that accuracy! I love crunching number and doing data analysis …

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Activity Trackers, GPS Stuff, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heart rate variability

I recently tripped across a concept I had never heard of called heart rate variability. It measures the actual distance between heart beats. As much as we think our heart beats at regular intervals it does not. And oddly the more regular the heart beats are, the less healthy we are (according to studies I read). HRV can measure mental/physical stress, and can tell us when we might be over training. Now in all the reading I have done I am not sure I have a firm grasp on what this all means, but I can start with the technology side of things. Once we have the data then we can scratch things (your head … other things :)) to figure out what exactly it means. I won’t address the topic of what is HRV, or how to interpret it, I will address it from a technology point of view. There are lots of articles on HRV written by medical professionals who have a lot more cred than I. So on with the tech …

First off you need an accurate heart rate monitor. Optical ones won’t do. My Scosche for example is not supported. So your looking at a strap. The Wahoo TICKR as well as the Polar H7 both will fit the bill …

I have not found any watches that do HRV (My polar A300, Fibit Blaze don’t). I am sure one somewhere does … So that leaves us with an app. I am on an iPhone for now. I quickly zeroed in on three apps. HRV+ (free), Elite HRV (free), and SweetBeat HRV (paid). Sweatbeat even offer a free onetime HRV evaluation of the data you have uploaded in the price. Both Elite and Sweetbeat upload the data to their server (HRV+ does not).

One of the first thing I noticed is that HRV, like your heart rate can vary quite a bit, so a longer sampling gives you a more accurate reading. How long? Well I worked with all three apps for over a week and found the biggest variation (on average off by 19%) to be on the app that took the HRV for the shortest, which is HRV+ at only a 60 second reading (Vs 2 or 3 minutes). Interpreting the data is key, and HRV+ did nothing but give you the raw data. As such, I would have to say give HRV+ a pass.

Moving onto Elite HRV I would have to say this app is by far my favorite of the three. It’s free, and who doesn’t like free! It also attempts to help you interpret the data and gives you a simple visual. The raw HRV is there, it quantifies it, compares it and even reminds you if you miss your morning HRV reading. The visual graph should help you determine if your HRV is too low, too high or just right (no references to children s books needed). A track record is really important to the apps ability to help you know where you are at physically/emotionally. You can do HRV readings anytime you want and your history data is kept for you. As a tool goes I think Elite HRV is the best of the three. The one thing that is missing is a web portal to see the results that have been uploaded to the cloud … So if there isn’t a web portal why am I uploading my data? Elite on average was within 10% of Sweetbeat.

Last but not least is Sweetbeat HRV. I bought this after watching a video from one of the founders that went into the work they had done to correlate Sweetbeat with EKG machines. I was impressed (I drank the Koolaid). Couple this with the fact that Sweetbeat will do a manual analysis of your uploaded HRV and it seemed like a good choice. What is missing is a nice visual showing your HRV like Elite does. Oddly there is a second app from the same company for $6.99 that does give you that called DailyBeat HRV.
They do show you your HRV throughout the session:
And a plethora of data on your HRV that if I had no idea what to do with HRV, I REALLY have no idea what to do with this:

As much difficulty I had getting correlation on HRV (between the apps) the other data that comes out of these apps like RMSSD (Root Mean Square of the Successive Differences) was completely all over the place. Without some believable data what the heck do I do with it?

There is a portal to log onto to see your results but it is basic at best and provides little to no tools to help you do anything with the data over and above what you get on the phone.

So tool wise there you have it. Now all I have to do is figure out what it means? I have noticed it definitely detects when I am run down, not feeling great, slept poorly etc, but do I need an app to tell me that? Maybe I should just go low tech an buy a mood ring:) Maybe as a weekend warrior I just don’t need this level of focus?

June 29, 2016 Posted by | iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Tempered glass screen protectors (a mini post)

Over the years I’ve bought a few screen protectors. I have hated most of them. Orange peel textures, bubbles/dirt under them, distortion to the screen, reduced sensitivity to touch etc means as a whole I had given up on them.

Recently a bud of mine Lance bought a tempered glass screen protector and I was hugely impressed. Instead of a film like texture these are thicker and more rigid. They are completely clear, the finger glides over them naturally and there is absolutely no difference in touch responsiveness.

I noticed recently I had somehow aquired a few scratches on my iPhone 6. No idea how. So I bought one from JetDirect on Amazon for my iPhone 6. I actually bought two just in case I messed it up installing it. They were cheap like $10 for the two. It came with a sticky lint remover, a screen cleaner and the protector itself. First up you clean the screen as good as you can. Then polish it with the soft dust free cloth they provide. They give you a sticky lint remover but honestly packing tape works even better. Just go over the screen a couple times removing as much dust etc as you can. Cleanliness is paramount. The slightest piece of dust or hair and you have a mess on your hands. The protector comes with two pieces of tape you put on the front of the screen. This allows you to remove it and reposition it. There’s a thin film on the back of the protector that has to be removed, and is clearly identified on the back. You can lift the corner back up, reposition, reclean if needed and next thing you know you see the protector slowly adhere to the screen. It really is amazing to watch.

Once on the protector provides some additional rigidity to the screen against drops, as well as protection from scratches. It can even hide small scratches on the screen (it did mine). In the even the protector gets scratched it can be removed (tossed out) and replaced with a new one.

The one I bought was off by about 2 mm in size and barely covered the screen. Take some time and read reviews people have posted before buying.

I also bought one for my iPad mini and it was also from JetDirect and fit the iPad perfectly. Getting the screen completely clean took a ton of patience and time (Ok I admit Lance did it). Once in place it is invisible. Really quite amazing. I highly recommend them! Thanks Lance!

June 28, 2016 Posted by | iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Garmin Edge 305 review (take 2)

Dedicated followers may recall that I previously reviewed this device. Sadly I lost it not long after I got it so didn’t really get to totally explore all it’s features.


Currently I mountain bike with a Garmin Foretrex 401 and love it. The navigation is excellent, takes AAA batteries (so you can carry a spare set) and connects to ANT+ heart rate and wheel/cadence sensors. It has enough memory for 500 waypoints (the only device in this category even today). The large number of waypoints means I can carry all of the locations I go in memory and not have to preload them. 5 years later it’s still a fabulous device. It’s starting to show it’s age, the battery connector got bent. And my number one disappointment with this device is that it basically ignores the wheel sensor and always uses the GPS for speed/distance. Now on a road bike where your pretty straight this doesn’t make a huge difference but on a mountain bike where you are winding around constantly turning it can be off by a fair amount, think 10-30%.

To get around this I bought a Garmin FR70 just to record (and display) the data from the heart rate monitor and wheel/cadence sensor. Although I have to say I ignore cadence (the rate of rotation of your pedals). The FR70 has no GPS in it.

So I grabbed this Edge on ebay. The device has an ok size of screen, but given the size of the device Garmin has not made good use of the space on the display. Like a number of us, my eyes are not getting any better so having an option to have a larger font is nice, sadly this is missing on the Edge. It is however extremely flexible in terms of what is on the display. Completely customizable as most Garmins are. They do this very well.

The Edge connects by Ant+ to wheel/cadence sensor as well as heart rate monitors. Ant+ has the ability to transmit to multiple devices at the same time. A very nice feature. Now if you buy a dual band device (ant+ and bluetooth) you can add in connectivity to your phone as well. I’m on an iPhone. When I was on Samsung it too had Ant+ and the flexibility that offered was amazing. To check the wheel size I mapped out a route on Google using there distance calculation and then rode it and compared (once I manually set the wheel size).

Neither the FR70 or the Foretrex allow any kind of alerts for things like heart rate. Eureka, it’s there on the Edge. And very configurable. You can set a min/max heart rate and be alerted if you cross it. The Edge alerts you five times with a nice albeit annoying beep and then shuts up until your back in range. It really works well. If there is anything I wish Garmin had done was to make it easier to turn this on and off.

Waypoint memory size is limited to 50 you you have to pick and choose which to save. And if you add another one when it fills, it starts dropping ones off using some incredibly intelligent (I can only guess) method to it’s madness.

Navigation on the Edge is excellent. Well for the most part it is. You can navigate to a saved waypoint and it will show you a big display showing direction and distance as the crow flies to that way point. Garmin have always done this well. They have improved the usability to track back to the start and it shows your with a nice beep everywhere you need to turn to get back. Shows distance and time to get there. Perfect right? well on the road yes, but totally useless on a mountain bike path filled with turns. It just kept beeping at me telling me a turn was coming up. Ya how about you tell me when there isn’t one? And there is no way to silence the alerts (that I’ve seen). Oh well … There are two things on the Foretrex Navigation they didn’t include on the Edge. If you press and hold button on Foretrex you can navigate to a waypoint. On the Edge you have to press numerous buttons to get to the same point. On the Foretrex it remember where on the list of waypoints you last selected, on the edge it goes to the top of the menu each time. A little irritating.

I also noticed the Edge the map only shows the points on the map for the current lap. On the Foretrex it showed even past rides. I can see both good and bad in that.

The unit runs on an internal rechargeable battery that is charged by a mini USB port. So sadly you can not carry a spare battery and you better remember to charge it.

The Edge comes with two nice mounts making it possible to mount it on two bikes. And there are two different bike profiles you can setup and choose from. I had to dig to find how to choose the bike profile and eventually just stumbled on it (press and hold mode). The bike profiles allow you to set the bike’s weight (I have no idea what it does with that), as well the size of the wheel (or auto). I don’t really trust auto so set my own. I had read some reports that the Edge can fall off the mount so I put an elastic around it to the handle bars as a precaution.

The Edge unlike the Foretrex will always favor speed/distance from the wheel sensor! And in fact, there’s even a GPS off mode for using on a trainer. And next time you turn it back on it turns the GPS back on for you.

The screen scratches REALLY easily and is flush so if you drop it …

Once back in the house you sync your route with Garmin connect (their portal) using the Garmin Express app. It works Ok, but I am kind of disappointed it does not sync over ANT+. Firmware updates are also done this way.

Garmin do include an app called Basecamp to allow you get and edit your data (waypoints, maps and routes) to/from the Edge but this app is pretty poorly done. I prefer the older Garmin Metroguide.

I did have an issue with USB 3 on my laptop not working correctly with the edge. The way around it was to put a USB hub in between, odd but manageable.

So all in all I like the Edge, it’s discontinued now but there are lots around on ebay etc so dirt cheap!

June 23, 2016 Posted by | GPS Stuff | Leave a comment

Shinecon VR headset mini review

I’ve been super curious about VR headsets. I’ve seen the ones from Samsung and wondered about them. So I found this one which fits my iPhone 6 and comes with a clicker to control the phone.


First up comes content. VR, 3D, etc are all names for different forms of displaying 3D content. When you go to the movies or have a 3D TV in the house they rely on glasses that refocus an image that on it’s own is out of focus and in so doing creates a 3D image. As an example here is a Youtube video I thought was pretty decent.

This type of headset, is basically a more elborate Google Cardboard. It relies on side by side distortions to create the depth. So if you play it without the 3d what you see is two side by side movies. There’s lots of content out there for this type of headset. Everything from movies, to Youtube. You just need to look for the buzz words SBS (side by side), Google cardboard, 180 degree VR etc. Because of the side by side what you seeing is quite small (think half of a screen). The overall effect definitely gives a perspective of depth, but is no where near as immersive. You don’t get the holy crap that ball is going to hit me I better duck feeling you do in a movie theater. Some of the effects however are quite good.

The headset itself is simply a holder for your existing phone. This one folds down in the front you clip your phone in close the door and away you go.

The headset is placed on your head and projects in front of you. Since you are playing from your phone, your device needs to be handle the demands of the specific movie. The headset is by no means light and the weight is quite noticeable. I found myself holding it with my hands to reduce the weight/discomfort. I have a hard time imagining watching a 3 hour movie with it.


The bluetooth clicker that came with the phone is fairly limited in use on the iPhone. Since the iPhone does not support a mouse you are pretty much stuck with open the door, start the clip, quickly close the door, quickly slip on the headset and away you go. To say it is clumsy is an understatement. This would be a whole lot easier on Android which supports a mouse.

You quickly run into the next challenge, the menuing system for whatever your going to use, be it Kodi, a Youtube video etc all are (of course) not 3D. So your navigating a bizarre looking image. I found it best to close an eye or focus on one eye.

On iPhones you run into a number of additional challenges (beyond the mouse). Storing local content is problematic (although not impossible) and getting Kodi on your iPhone is also non-trivial. Of course none of these are an issue with Android:) Ya ya …

In the end, for $40, it amused me for a brief period of time, and satisfied a curiosity. I am not sure how much I will use it, but been there done that got the t-shirt:)

June 10, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, Mutlimedia | Leave a comment

Waze app review

Waze is a cross platform (iOS, android, web) app, I’ve played with it on a number of occasions and uninstalled it each and every time. More on this to come. Waze allows you to use it as an in car navigation tool (with traffic data provided by fellow users), with the ability to have you share your eta and live location with friends. There’s a social side allowing you to message folks near you (a bizarre concept for someone driving) as well as report gas prices, traffic conditions etc. Once you’ve set a destination it allows you to send an email or text message with your eta. Over email it sends a link that allows someone to watch you to live follow you on your progress to your destination. This feature alone is amazing.

The app is very much single purposed, driving. Forget it for walking, cycling, public transit or any other method of transport you can imagine … yes even flew powder trips can not be tracked:).

The app shows you traffic on your route as well as locations of the po po, red light cameras etc. This data is entered by users and pulled from their devices (even when they are not using the app). And this is my first rub with the app. The end user can not control the apps use of location, data etc. It’s either always on or always off. Very bad.

They have added the ability to manually turn off the app but you have to think to do it.
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If the other person has waze as well they can follow you in the app. Text message just gives a one time eta. The navigation app works fine. You can load the app onto a phone and tablet but the history is not syncd between the two.

If you allow Waze to access your facebook friends those using waze immediately appear on your friends list.

One of the things missing on the app is the ability to request a users location, like you can using the find friends app on iPhone.

Over all it’s a good app, great search, navigation, traffic. I just wish for more control on it’s use of my battery/data and the ability to request the location of missing loved one late or MIA.

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apple AirPrint for iPads/iPhones

As with everything Apple they have their own way of doing things. Bringing a new disparate architecture device presents challenges. Everything else in my house is Windows so when I bought a iPhone and iPad I had to look into how to make printing working. One would hope that cloud printing would be possible, if it is I don’t see it, at least not without paying for apps. The google apps (Gmail for example) have some cloud printing within them. HP have an ePrint app but it literally creates it’s own app to get at your photos, to browse the web from, read email from etc. It does allow printing from anywhere but isn’t really what I was hoping for.

The network standard for an iPad/iPhone is called Airplay. My HP 1102W while not officially on the Apple site does support Airplay and my iPhone found it when I was on the home network allowing me to print easily. But what if you have another printer that isn’t actually supported? Well, while not simple by any means, you can add AirPlay support to any printer on a Windows PC using this guide. I did it and got both my printers working on the network. While this does not solve the issue of cloud printing it does however give you a way to do it. That’s about it.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Whatsapp mini review

Many of us have multiple devices we use on a daily bases. Why companies continue to not understand and exploit this is beyond me. A desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a phone etc and it would be great to be able to have one cross platform app from which to chat with friends over. Google Hangouts is probably one of the best at this. It lets you use however many devices you want. And whatever was the last device to get used is where a notification is sent. BBM is one of the worst in that it can only be installed at one device at a time and you literally have to uninstall and reinstall to move it to a different device. And BBM has been absolutely plagued lately by a constant stream of spam from people asking to connect and businesses too.

So along come Whatapp. It is an interesting concept. You install an app on your phone (iPhone, Blackberry or Windows phone). This device becomes the gateway that all other devices can then send messages through. It’s worth noting that you have to keep your phone, on, and online or Whatsapp breaks.

In addition to your phone you can also use Whatsapp and sign into the web, a PC or Mac (No official iPad support and you can’t use the web app from an iPad either). You log onto the web interface (or start the PC or iPad app) and it brings up a QR code which you then from your phone you authorize. You can authorize as many devices at a time but can only log in to your phone plus one device at a time. Not perfect, but not horrible. You can logout from all computers from the phone but not just one device.

When you install it for the first time it goes through your contacts based on phone numbers and finds the list of people already on whatsapp and adds them to your favorites. Now that sounds like a good idea but it created a plague of people in my favorites. Fortunately there is a delete all favorites button and then add back the folks you really want. I see no way to see which of your friends is actually active on Whatsapp Vs tried it and are no longer using it. Once you start a chat you can see when they were last seen so at least at that point you will know if they are active on Whatsapp.

There is no approval process for adding friends, or allowing someone to send you a message. This would imply spam is quite possible. You can block people from within the phone app.

The default privacy policy is terrible (or should I say no privacy), but fortunately can be easily changed. Your status, profile photo, and Last seen are visible to everyone by default. Yuk. Be sure and change that. (Settings, account, privacy).

Messages are confirmed when sent (single check mark), confirmed when read (two check marks), and you can see them typing (replying). Whatsapp supports text chats, and voice calls. But there is no voice out calling (as there is in Skype), and no voice in (other than from Whatsapp clients).

You can manually send your location (from the phone app only) to a contact, but I see no way to do live tracking of friends, and no way to request a persons location. A crying shame.

Messages are encrypted if you care.

May 12, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Apple Pay now adds Canadian banks

I’ve had phones that would support NFC tap and go credit card payments for years now. But up until now it has been virtually useless/inaccessible to most Canadians. You could only do it with an American Express. Well all that changed As of Tuesday two of the major banks in Canada, and more to come soon now allow Apple Pay. I have a CIBC card that is supported, and I bank with BMO (that isn’t yet, although supposed to be coming). The process to add the card is dead easy. You take a picture of your credit card accept the end user agreement (I actually read it and it doesn’t seem too bad). And your done. Once setup from a powered off lock screen you can double tap the home button and Apple Pay comes up. You then enter your passcode (or use your fingerprint) and it’s ready to tap. You do not have to be using finger print for it to work. It is super convenient and works easily. I did quickly run into a vendor that did not have tap at all so you can’t abandon a physical card just yet. Once the transaction is complete you get a buzz on the device and record in Apple Pay to show the transaction. No email trace though. There is some discussion on the price the banks had to pay to make this happen.

My iPhone 6 is supported, it was one of the reasons I went with a 6 instead of a 5S!

All in all it’s been a long time coming and nice to see it finally here.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff | Leave a comment


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