Monday, February 20, 2017

Apple Watch Series 2 (42mm, space gray aluminum) - A Fitness Perspective



I've been a big fan of pebble for the last couple of years.  I started with the original pebble and then upgraded to Pebble Time in early 2016.  It had an always on e-ink color screen, amazing battery life, water resistant, thin, light, and worked pretty reliably with my iPhone.  I mostly used it for notifications, calendar, an occasional app, and fitness tracker.  For serious workouts I still relied on my TomTom Spark 2 cardio + music.  That is a great workout watch given the price and size of the thing.  The only thing I wish it had was at least a few smart features like notifications which they promised over 1.5 yrs ago and never delivered.  Oh well.

I've been pretty happy with my dual watch setup up until Pebble being killed off by the Fitbit buyout.  Yes, I know all about the promises of keeping the cloud services alive for a year and all the open source efforts going on but the thing is there will never be another pebble watch made.  What is out there is all there ever will be.  I looked at some other options like Martian, Vector (now also bought out by Fitbit), Garmin, etc.  Nothing really appealed to me.

So my wife got me an Apple Watch for Valentines Day though $400 for a watch seemed like way too much even given the typical Apple tax.  I knew it was more of an everyday watch and it really excels at that but I wanted to really dig into the fitness side of things and see how well it stacks up to my TomTom.  I'm already pretty invested in apple stuff (iphone 7 plus, macbook pro 15" mid 2014, ipad air 2). They only thing I really miss from my pebble so far is the always on face.  No real custom watch faces is also a bit annoying but with complications and photo watch face you can kind of create your own.

I went with a standard black sports band and also picked up this black Milanese Loop for $14.  I highly suggest you swing by an apple store and just try a bunch of bands on with your watch and see what looks and feels nice to you then go after market.  Because $200 for a Milanese loop band is INSANE.

Indoor Gym - Workout app (47 min)
- 47 min strength workout.  I used the built in workout app and picked other.  It seemed to work ok but calories burned was quite a bit lower than my TomTom.  Everything feeds into activities and health kit so myfitnesspal has no problems reading in the data from health  kit.

Outdoor Run - Workout app (3.2 miles)
- GPS map and distance - pretty spot on with my tomtom.  It was .01 miles shorter.  Heart rate seemed fine though I wish it had a heart rate/pace graph.  At least there are splits for the pace.  Music over bluetooth was FANTASTIC.  It paired fine with my mpow headphones and never lost connection, never skipped, and no static.  Compared to my tomtom I have to wear that on my right wrist and even then if I put my right hand down it would cut out for a bit.
- Display was bright and very legible during daylight.  I really like how you can see 5 stats all at once plus the clock is always there in the upper right.  I like to see running time, distance, current pace, average pace, and heart rate.
- Pacing data seemed fine for me though I didn't change pace much.  I didn't have any of the weird stuff going on like DC Rainmaker had in his review but then again I'm a LOT slower (10-11 min/mile).
- Calories burned seemed in line with tomtom.
- Why can't I view my workout I just completed on my watch?  It seems like I have to go to my phone for that.  Annoying.
- Overall I'm really happy with this watch for running and can easily replace my tomtom for that.  I just wish it had some graphs added to the activities app/workouts section and also a way to export the data to at least a few different popular online sites.  For some heart rate graphs I like HeartWatch (really good complication) or Cardiogram.  Both do a pretty good job at displaying heart rate data in all sorts of interesting ways.
- Battery life was just fine.  After a full day of use + the run I still had about 50% left.
- I briefly looked at nike run club and what the display options during running looked like.  It was basically worthless so I deleted it.

Outdoor Run - Runkeeper
- As one of the few apps that support the gps on the watch I decided to give this a try.  It's kind of horrible.  My pace was all over the place, heart rate dropped out a few times, and it crashed mid run.  You can display only 4 stats simultaneously.  Sure you can cycle a few of the areas through different stats and show some fancy graphs but I don't really care about that during the run.  I much prefer the clearer, bigger, and more information dense display from the workout app.  Yeah, I think I'll stick to the default workout app for running.  Maybe strava will be better when it's released in a few weeks.

Indoor bike
- Seemed to work well enough.  Calorie counts were quite a bit lower than tomtom.

Pool Swim (30 min)
- Just fantastic.  It's hands down better than tomtom.  I was able to input 25 yd pool length.  It counted my lengths, distance, pace (with splits), and even heart rate (which tomtom disables during swim) all accurately.  I did the water ejection thing a few times and the speaker was pretty much back to normal.

Outdoor bike - (13 miles)
- I used the cyclemeter app since my setup is all bluetooth wahoo stuff (speed + cadence + rflkt bike computer).  Cyclemeter fully supports apple watch and lets you really customize the display.  I set it up with 6 stats which is basically how I have the RFLKT setup (speed, avg speed, heart rate,  cadence, ride time, ride miles).  It's a bit tiny on the watch and the angle isn't the best especially when down in the aero bars but overall not bad.  It picked up the heart rate from the watch and then it also shows up in the RFLKT.  Typically on my training rides I leave the tomtom at home since I always have my phone with me.  I used a Mio Link for heart rate data (hate chest straps).  This basically lets me use the apple watch instead of the mio link and as a bonus I get the convenience of answering calls and notifications on my wrist.  Overall, heart rate data was acceptable but seemed to lag a bit more than the mio link.

I've had the watch for a full week now wearing it pretty much everyday.  It really is pretty great as an everyday watch.  What is surprising is I think this can also be my everyday triathlon training watch.  I think at this point it is probably good enough to replace a TomTom.  I still won't use it on race day though since it doesn't pair with my bluetooth speed and cadence sensors.  Also, there is no way it's going to compete with more serious multisport watches like a garmin 920xt or fenix 5.  But for the more casual multisport enthusiast the apple watch is probably going to be fine for most people.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Swimming with Music - Waterproof swim headphones

One of the things I dread about triathlon training are long boring lap pool swims.  After about 30 min I have a hard time keeping motivated.  I train with music for everything else like the bike and run so why not the swim too?  So I tried a few different options.


First up is the Sony Walkman NWZW273S 4 GB Waterproof Sports MP3 Player (Black) with Swimming Earbuds.  I paid $80 when I bought these.  The first pair worked pretty well as long as you can get a good seal.  It would leak occasionally and then the sound would become muffled until it dried out.  But overall it performed well.  It lasted almost a year but then stopped working. It just wouldn't turn on or charge.  I always let it dry out for a day before charging.  I tried the toothbrush on the contacts and all the trouble shooting tips but nothing helped.  Good thing it was still under warranty (1 yr) and Sony shipped me a new replacement.  Support is pretty good and they pay for shipping for the RMA.  The new pair worked great for about 11 months.  Again, it died in the same manner.  I'm in the process getting yet another replacement.  I guess it is a good thing it died just before the warranty ended.  Either way I'm OUT.  I just don't think they are very reliable.  I'm going to sell the new replacement.

Next, I tried thewirecutter recommendation of the Swimbuds SPORT and Underwater Audio Waterproof iPod Bundle.  It is pricey at $175!!!!  The ipod shuffle is waterproofed using a nanocoating process and it really works!  I went for a 1 hour swim and so far so good.  The shuffle is so small you don't even notice it is there when clipped to the back of your swim goggles.  The seal on the swimbuds was quite a bit better than the sony ones.  Overall sound quality was better too.  I also found the controls on the ipod much easier to operate without sight than the sony ones.  So so far it's better in every way but is also more the 2X the price.  Now I just have to wait and see if these last more than a year.  Good thing the warranty is for 2 yrs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Felt B16 2014 Triathlon Bike







I recently picked up my first Triathlon bike.  I got a pretty good deal off of craigslist.  The bike pretty much looked new.  Here are the things I've changed:
- New bike tape
- iPhone 6 stem cap mount (waterproof)
- Right side water bottle cage
- ISM PR 1.0 saddle
- Power bank for longer rides (fits in the fuelbox)
- Aero fuelbox
- Feedback bike stand
- Cycelops trainer skewer to work with my trainer
- Wahoo Blue SC (pulled off my Trek)
- Aluminum presta valve caps
- Shimano PD-R550 pedals
- I use Roadbike Pro app as my cycling computer along with the Wahoo sensors.

Everything is installed and ready to go.  Next, I plan to use the Bike Fast Fit app and do an initial fitting by myself and see how that goes.  After that I'll finally be able to spend some quality saddle time with my new toy.  This is my first ISM saddle but since amazon offered free returns on this model I decided to give it a try.  If it doesn't work out I still have my old selle italia saddle that I like for the most part.

UPDATE: 8/31/2016





Final setup:
- Specialized Wedgie Saddle Bag for those longer rides when I need more carrying capacity.  I take it off for race days.
- Wahoo RFLKT - Just the regular version.  I didn't need the features of the + model and it was a great value at $45.  I use it with Cycle Meter (elite $10) app on my iPhone 6 along with the wahoo bluetooth sc cadence and speed sensors and a mio link optical heart rate sensor.  All the sensors pair to my iphone which I keep in my back left jersey pocket and then gets sent to the RFLKT.  You have a ton of customization options through the cyclemeter app on what to display, position, size, etc.
- Now that my phone is in my jersey pocket I can't hear my tunes anymore so I added an iFrogz Audio Tadpole bluetooth speaker. I just clip it around one of my brake lines and then velcro cable tie it to the end of the aero bar so it doesn't rattle around.  With my phone controlling all aspects of the cockpit but with the screen off it only uses 5% battery on a 1 hour ride!
- On race day I don't use my iPhone or RFLKT but instead pair my sensors to my TomTom Spark Cardio watch.
- Bottle Rocket for hydration between the aero bars.  I really like this option better since it is really easy to reach, dirt cheap at $20, you don't have to break aero, and I can still use the rear transition hook on my ISM saddle to rack my bike.
Planet Bike SuperFlash Turbo Bicycle Tail Light
- Lifeproof FRE case for my iphone to make it waterproof.  This makes pretty much everything I have on my bike rides either waterproof or water resistant so no need to panic if I get caught in the rain.

So far I'm loving this setup and this bike.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Run your own personal cloud server (owncloud)



So what do you do when you have gigabit internet symmetric and loads of hard drive space?  You start finding ways to start using some of that capacity.  So I've been looking to setup my own cloud server to just more easily access my files in general and maybe share files with some close friends and family.  I didn't want to go through some third party and I didn't want to have to worry about any file size or space limitations.  I searched around and owncloud seems to be the most popular.  It's also free and open source.  It's also linux based.  They have a live demo on their site if you want to play around with it first.

While you can install it in windows using xampp there seems to be some limitations that way.  So I took this as an opportunity to play around with linux a bit more.  In the downloads section under the appliances tab you'll find vm images ready to run (based on ubuntu 14.04).  I used the OVA image and imported it into virtualbox.  I kept it at 2gb ram but upped the cpu to 2 cores and changed networking to bridged.

I recommend using ssh (putty) instead the virtualbox console to work in since you get copy and paste that way and don't have to install the guest additions.

Setup wasn't too bad but my linux is pretty rusty and I haven't messed with apache much.  First thing was to give it a fixed internal ip address from my router then add that ip and my domain to the trusted_domains section in:
/var/www/owncloud/config/config.php
You will have to become root (sudo -i) to get to that directory.
I like using pico/nano for my editor.

To get windows shares going you just need to install smbclient first using apt-get
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install smbclient
After that just go enable the external storage app.

To get rid of the php5-apcu warning:
https://github.com/owncloud/core/issues/14386
Just uncomment the trusty-backports lines in the sources.list file and then you just use apt-get to install php5-apcu/trust-backports

Changing the default ports was slightly trickier but I got it all working and installed my own ssl certificates too to get rid of the self signed warnings.  I had to change ports because my windows iis web servier vm is already using 80 and 443.  Setup your port forward in your router and you should be good to go.

change ports in:
/etc/apache/ports.conf
/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/

installing your free startssl cert:
You'll need to make sure these lines are in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/self-signed-ssl
SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/2_yourdomain.cert
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/yourdomain.key
SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/ssl/1_root_bundle.crt


Overall, I had fun getting this setup and so far it's been running pretty great.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Expand Your Storage Space of Your Retina Macbook Pro

One thing I really miss about the older pre Retina macbook pro's was the ability to easily upgrade memory and disk storage.  As long as you had the proper torx screwdriver you can just swap out the hard drive for a big SSD.  When I sold my old mid 2010 15" mbp for a mid 2014 15" retina mbp I opted for the 500gb ssd.  It was plenty of space until I started getting into mobile development using xamarin.  I like coding in visual studio running on windows 10 inside vmware fusion.  I was really starting to gobble up a lot of space with my windows vm.

There are a few solutions that take advantage of the built in SD card slot that when inserted it is flush with the edge of the slot and doesn't stick out.  Transcend makes the JetDrive which has the flash built in but I opted for the BASEQI aluminum microSD Adapter for MacBook Pro 15" Retina for $25.  It's basically micro sdxc to SD adapter but it's much shorter than usual.  When fully inserted it is completely flush with the rest of the macbook.  I run my finger over the slot and NOTHING sticks out.  There is a tiny groove cut into the edge of the adapter big just enough for a finger nail to get in but the idea is you just insert it and leave it.  I paired it with a 200GB Sandisk Ultra micro sdxc card for $90.  I went with this solution for the added flexibility.  Maybe you already have a micro sd card to use or maybe they will come out with a bigger or faster one in the future.

Make sure you get the right model of BASEQI that matches your model mbp.  For me it was the 504A.  Also, there are no sleep issues with this adapter.  It's properly mounted every time.

If you sync 1password with dropbox and you move your dropbox folder you will need to start over with an empty vault.  Also, make sure you quit 1password and 1password mini (click the little gear in the top right corner) before moving your dropbox folder.  

Performance was better than I expected.  Just make sure you format it in HSF+ Journaled (guid) for the best compatibility.  I had some issues with games being on the sd card when it  was exFat.  You can expect about 15MB/s write and around 90MB/s read.  Playing games off of it worked great.  I tried guild wards 2, world of warcraft, and game of thrones and they all loaded up pretty fast.  It's also a great place to sync your dropbox files too.

Highly Recommended!