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If you liked my old webbpage, you'll find it here: www.jansroeber.de old webpage

Monday, April 13, 2015

Recent Release of OSX 10.10.3 Yosemite fixes gMail Password Bug and WiFi

The latest update of Yosemite to 10.10.3 finally was a good one.
Not only does it bring "photos" for OSX, which is a blast, it also fixes a couple of issues I had with Yosemite:

  • The gMail bug, that unpredictably killed my mail by asking to re-enter my password over and over again disappeared, since Apple implemented Googles 2-factor authentication into their native Mail App
  • The WiFi problems that caused interruptions seem to be fixed as well.

If all this is not only a coincidence, my trust in Apple is coming back.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How to use your iPhone's Fitness Apps and a wristband HR-Monitor in parallel

The iPhone has some awesome sports monitoring capabilities, such as the GPS (>3Gs), a motion sensor(>5s) and an accelerometer(>5s), wich can be combined with several apps. So one can use the iPhone as a fitness dashboard for all kinds of sports.

All this, from a traninig perspective only makes sense if it's combined  with a heart-rate sensor, usually worn around the chest, that gives you feedback on your actual heart rate and -combined with the distance and/or time- about the work your body has provided during a workout, or a series of workouts.

iPhones are equipped with Bluetooth interfaces. Such an interface can be used to get the data provided by a heart-rate sensor into an app.
But if you have the HR displayed on the iPhone display only, you always have to carry the iPhone in your hands, in order to watch it.
That does not make sense, if running or cycling in the rain, or rowing on the water, since your iPhone may drop, crash or get wet, besides the handling problem.

So mirroring the actual HR on a wristband device would make sense.

Well known heart-rate sensors that are available as dual band models are among others the POLAR H7 and the Wahoo Tickr.
These HR sensors have a great feature: They transmit the heart rate on two different bands in parallel. The polar H7 sends Bluetooth and Polar-compatible data streams, The Wahoo Tickr sends Bluetooth and ANT+ in parallel. ANT+ is used for the HR transmission in GARMIN and CONCEPT2 devices for example. Both sensors cost about 50-60€

Consequently you can display and log your performance data on you iPhone and on one of the compatible devices at the same time.

This makes it much easier to remember your training results.

This all may be boring after the Apple Watch came out in 2015, but "Who needs an Apple Watch?" said the geek who owns an iPhone, an iPad, two iPods, a MacBookPro and other gadgets.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Upgrading my MacBook Pro 15" (Early 2011) to a SSD

With the upgrade to Yosemite, my MacBook Pro became a bit lame, so I checked all of the opportunities that could speed up my Mac again.

After going thru all of the settings, reducing transparency, refresh rates of the sidebar etc., I was still not satisfied with the speed. The only way to bring back the old days again would be to migrate to an SSD and get rid of the old HDD.

Some research later, I decided to buy the Transcend JetDrive 420 1) package that comes with all accessories like screwdrivers, enclosure for the old drives second life etc.

Although it's a slick way to migrate the existing data to the SSD, using Apple's disk utility program, I decided to go via a SuperDuper! clone, since I already own the software since a couple of years.

I needed to mount the SSD into the enclosure, connect it to my Mac, then format the SSD to one partition in MacOS(journaled) and GUID settings and start the data transfer with SuperDuper! 4).

SuperDuper! is pretty simple to use and all you have to do is to make a 100% clone of the HDD to the SSD. The only thing you have to consider is that the Yosemite recovery partition is not copied by this method. Consequently this has to be done at a later stage.

Once the clone was ready(with my 300GB it took some 4h), I renamed the SSD to the same name the original drive had, shut down the mac, built SSD in the MacBook  2) and that was it.

After starting the remarkably faster Mac, which worked seamlessly, I had to switch on Trim Support for the SSD. I chose a software called TrimEnabler 3) which is free in the light version and two restarts later I was in business again.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Taking minutes and notes on the iPad

My habits of using the iPad have changed to a more work oriented pattern and I tend to carry it with me wherever I go on business.

My company has started to offer a "bring your own device" programme and I'm currently testing the "good for enterprise" mail app that is bringing my office email to my iPad by sandboxing all mail in a closed container on the iPad, that can be wiped by the admins if I loose my iPad or else.
So I got rid of carrying my Blackberry with me all the time in addition to my iPhone.

I started taking notes on the iPad by wringing them into the good app, which is very good in case I need it printed or machine-written at a later stage, for example in order to distribute it to other participants as minutes of the meeting.

Unfortunately it is quite little fun to always start he good app, type in the password and then open a mail, adress it to yourself and start typing, but since most of us are living in a mail-based infosphere, this is a quite good way to live in just one app.
By using this method, I also used my Lotus Notes account to file the documents at a later stage by either dragging them into my nested folder structure or having them being auto-filed by applying mail rules to them like "if subject contains 'MoM' then move mail to folder 'Minutes of Meeting' " So I don't have to deal with it later on. Or "if subject contains 'ToDo' then move mail to folder 'action'."

But thinking further, it would be much better to just have a legal pad like app, scribble or write on it, draw a mind map or else, since this is much faster and more convenient if sitting in a meeting, in a conference, or riding on a train.

The major challenge of this is, to find out which way of writing is the most convenient for yourself and if you are fine with a mostly non searchable amount of data.

The following blogposts will show the results of my tests and trials.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My new Kindle Paperwhite WiFi

As you may know, I already own a KINDLE 4 since 2 years and I'm reading almost all of my books on the Kindle.
For the management of my books I'm using the very good freeware CALIBRE on my Mac.

The pro's for reading on the KINDLE instead of a tablet computer with a backlit display are that I can read black on white in the bright sun, on the beach and wherever I want, but don't have the glare and the reflections I'd have on the like iPad device.

The con of reading on the Kindle 4 is that I would need a light o read in the dark or darker ambiance like on a plane, since the KINDLE display is not glowing in the dark and acts more or less like a sheet of paper with all ups and downs.

The new KINDLE Paperwhite now combines the best of the 2 different technologies. It has the e-ink display, that provides a very sharp black on white reading experience plus a backlit on-display film that reflects the light onto the display like it would do if I had a reading light that illuminates the display. This whole ensemble has a touch and feel like backlit display without the downside of itching eyes due to the blinding light of a backlit display.
In a nutshell, I can read in the dark, in the sun and wherever I want with a battery life of 2-4 weeks depending on the reading hours I have.

It's amazing what the KINDLE Paperwhite ca do!

I would love to see the Paperwhite in a non-touch version that allows to read with the reader in my left hand and to turn the pages on the left side of the kindle. Unfortunately it is not possible to inverse the page turning for left handed use on the software side of the Kindle OS.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Runtastic App for iOS

Runtastic is a fitness oriented software for iOS devices.

It monitors your sports activities and is also linked to the runtastic webpage where all of these activities can be logged and listed.

Runtastic can cooperate with facebook, twitter, google+ and further social media in order to post your achievements to your wall or just tweet them to the universe.

The app can be paired with a bluetooth-heratrate-monitor in the pro-version that logs your heartbeats and gives you feedback on your workout and the energy-consumption.
Furthermore the track and its distance are logged via GPS and you can see it on a map while and after the workout.

To achieve the best feedback it is necesscary to set the app not only to your personal data like age, weight, height, sex etc. but also to set it to the sports you are logging, so the energy consumption is calculated correctly.

There are lots of sports to choose from: Running, cycling, mountain biking, race biking, nordic walking, inline skating, hiking, walking, horse riding, sailing, surfing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, kajaking, handbiking, cross skating, skiing, snowboarding, skitouring, cross country skiing, golfing, paragliding, motobiking, american football, baseball, crossfit, dancing, ice hockey, skateboarding, zumba, gymnastics, rughby, standup paddling and "other sports".

It's kind of ridiculous, that exotic sports like standup paddling is available, but rowing is not available.
B.t.w. its is available on the Android version, but not on iOS.

In addition the app does not allow to choose from any indoor sport, or indoor versions of sports, like indoor cycling or running on a threadmill. Shure, you can choose "running" instead, but you would have the GPS engaged for the whole exercise, which unnessescarily drains the battery of your device and shows funny tracks on the map.

Every sport listed shows specific energy-consumption that is calculated with your personal factors involved. That's why choosing the correct sports is so important.

You can also race against friends you are linked with, race against yourself if you run the same tracks again, get motivational messages from your friends, listen to your powersong if needed and lots of other functions.

Good app with lots of possibilities and fields ofy application

Different endurance sports are missing in the iOS version. Seems easy to add them, but the development staff is not very responsive to ideas and requests of users.
The app is continiously asking for rating it on the appstore, even if you already rated it. That's an absolute no-go for me. That happend to users while a marathon race and eventually killed the log of the marathon.

The polar "beat" app is an alternative to the runtastic app, but it doesn't allow manual entry of exercises.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Looking for a sturdy, but lightweight tripod

In the past month my interest in photography grew again. I must admit, that I renewed my camera and lens equipment and started  to become a photographer again.
Unfortunately this wasn't the case in the past and I more or less took only point&shoot pictures.

Along with the re-activation of my camera gear came the interest in available light and night shooting.

I aways owned a very sturdy MANFROTTO X055 tripod, that weighs about 2,8 kg (including the ball head) and this led to the fact that it was staying home most of the time.

So I started reading about tripods again, compared a lot of different models and tried to find out the most lightweight and sturdy one that can hold my NIKON D800 + f2,8 Lens for night shots.

The results were't really promising, but eventually I came to the following shortlist:

Target was:
Weight </= 1,5kg ; Folded size </= 40cm; should hold >/=10kg

So the first result was, that it must be made of carbon-fiber i.o. to achieve the weight

Shortlist with Pro's&Con's

Pro's: Lightweight, compact, portable, price
Con's: Very few shops to get a hands on impression, probably not sturdy enough

  • SIRUI T-1204X

Pro's: Lightweight, compact, portable, price
Con's: Very few shops to get a hands on impression, probably not sturdy enough
           A little less compact than the 1205

Pro's: Lightweight, compact, portable, sturdy
Con's: Availability&Price

So this wasn't successful.

But last weekend there was a house trade-fair held by my favorite photo-dealer (BESIER-OEHLING Frankfurt) held in Wiesbaden that i visited. My target was to compare all available tripods that met my requirements.

In a nutshell: It took me 3,5hrs to have a hands-on experience on all of the available tripods and the result was, that I'd either buy a BENRO or a TILTALL tripod.
It turned out, that there a some rebranded SIRUI's and BENRO's sold and that the main elements like tube-diameters, heights, length and weight wre pretty much comparable.
The weight of the SIRUI's is always declared lower, since they always weigh them with the short center-collumn mounted.

Eventually I ended up with the TILTALL C254 tripod.(Most probably a rebranded SIRUI T1204X tripod)

It's weight is 1,1Kg, it holds up to 10kg, folds to 36cm and is a very sturdy, well-thought piece of equipment. The legs can be folded at  3 positions up to 180°, so the ball-head is embedded by the legs while traveling. You can convert the tripod into a monopod if you like, and the center-collumn can be mounted inversely if you a into macro photography.
The price was 290€, which left some space to buy a 330g SIRUI K-10X ballhead.
The whole combo now weighs 1,5kg.

First test-results are excellent.

The decision was mostly taken upon my hands-on experience. It could also have been the SIRUI T-1204X, but I couldn't get a grip to it.