Gadgets and the IoT: Speedo Misfit Shine

April 21, 2016 Comments Off on Gadgets and the IoT: Speedo Misfit Shine

I thought I’d review of a couple of things I’ve used recently, all sort of activity trackers that I’d hope would improve on shortcomings of apps that track your activity on your phone. That, and the fact that I was jealous of my other half and her Fitbit.
Fitbit didn’t fit the bill for me as they have no device that records my swims. So when Speedo announced something back in August-September last year, I was eager to try it out. And it was relatively cheap as well. It wasn’t even £60.

Speedo Misfit Shine

The Speedo Misfit Shine promises to do general activity tracking but with the added benefit for swimmers that it would count your laps. I was sort of hoping that it would record the times for those laps as well, but after I first put it to use, I immediately realised that it would never get this far.
The pages at Speedo and Misfit promise you all sort of things, including the fact that this has been thoroughly tested with elite athletes.

  • The Swimmer’s Edition has the exclusive feature of tracking your swimming by counting your laps
  • The embedded proprietary lap-counting algorithm has been validated by Speedo in-pool testing with elite athletes and researchers.

From the very first swim, both myself and another team member of my swimming team realised that not all laps will be counted. The difference could actually be quite substantial. We worked out that when you kick in training, the laps often aren’t counted. This probably means that the internal mechanism does not base the laps on the detection of sudden accelerations which happen as you push of the wall, but is based on pauses in the arm movement. So that begs the question, how thoroughly has this been tested with elite athletes? Assuming of course that elite athletes do kick sets, they might not… (sorry for the irony if you don’t deal with that well).
On top of that, within a month, the device would stop recording halfway my training sessionis. I’ve had a number of emails with support regarding that and their conclusion was that I must have had a faulty device.
Alas, the new device started behaving in the same erratic way within 2 months. By that time, the battery was dead, as well as what remained  from the original battery. So that’s two batteries gone in 6 months. The pages from both Speedo and Shine promise a battery life of “up to 6 months”. I know what “up to” means, but you’d think that the device would last beyond the 3 months.

The data from my activities and sleep (sleep tracking is great with this swim tracker, so if sleep is what you want to track, this is your device) were accessible both through a web interface and the app. There were APIs available but I couldn’t find information on that. IFTTT has done an integration with sleep data for example.
So in terms of data availability and accessability, Misfit did well. Just a shame that the data it collected was crap.

Ditched it and on to new things: Moov. Review coming soon.


Now that was cheap!

October 21, 2013 Comments Off on Now that was cheap!

Bought a Canon 70-200 IS L lens back in 2007 (before going to India the first time, which would include a safari) for 1300€. I was lucky not to pay VAT and get a cash back!
Just sold that lens today for nearly 1000€ via eBay.

That means that I paid about 50€ per year for that lens. Hurray for great resell value.

Photo on 21-10-2013 at 12.56

Les Blue Stars

October 9, 2013 Comments Off on Les Blue Stars

Just thought I’d share this quickly. En FR and in EN

‘Tis The Season

December 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

Yesterday morning in my inbox :

Hi Mike, You don’t know me, and you’ll almost certainly never meet me, but I want to thank you. I want to thank you for this: On July 28, 2010, my mother left me a voicemail singing Happy Birthday, on my 26th birthday. In October, 2010, I upgraded my iPhone from a 3GS to a 4. And on April 29, 2011, my mother passed away, at 63, from ovarian cancer. How bad does that suck? Fast forward a year or so — I was tinkering with jailbreaking my old iPhone, and managed to mess it up to the point where I had to restore it from backup. What I did not realize was that this would effectively wipe all of the old voicemails from the phone — seemingly of minor consequence, but I was pretty crushed when I discovered that this, among the last recordings I’ll ever have of my mother’s voice, was possibly gone forever. Today, I finally decided to try (and in all likelihood, fail) to recover the message. Thanks to your blog post and a little bit of handiwork of my own in restoring the laptop I used to sync the 3GS to, I was successful. I found a link to the post on a page where several others described similar stories — that one message from a deceased friend, parent, child, sibling, that they desperately want to retrieve. When you wrote that post, perhaps you were simply exposing one of the iPhone’s little secrets, geeking out on demonstrating what can be done when digging into the Core of the Apple (as a lifelong Apple user who works in software, I get it). You may not have realized that this is, apparently, a common reason that people want to recover deleted or lost voicemails. So Mike… Thank you. I literally cried when I heard the message. And I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that I can listen to it every year as a reminder of my mother. I can send it to my brother and my dad on their birthdays, too. I hope this doesn’t come off too sappy and ridiculous, but I owe you a huge debt — and so do at least a handful of others who have recovered their loved ones’ messages as well. All the best, CB

My intentions were indeed geeky, and i hoped I’d help someone… but this wasn’t what I’d anticipated.

Google Wallet

October 24, 2012 § 1 Comment


a couple of things have become clear now since last post.

  1. Indeed, you have to buy stuff whilst you’re in your own country. It says so in some small print. A bit lame if you compare to Apple and Microsoft, and I hope that Google can get their stuff sorted here
  2. American Express is only valid in the US of A for Google Wallet. Why on earth Google didn’t warn me when I entered those details is bizarre to say the least! Only option then is to pay with my debit card… Not a drama, but it’s the initial confusion that caused the disappointment.

So there we go, I understand the Google world a little bit better now. At least Android doesn’t stop working as soon as you leave the country!

Google Play doesn’t get “online” buying.

October 15, 2012 Comments Off on Google Play doesn’t get “online” buying.

Now don’t expect a great review comparing all the details of the services, but… I’ve started noticing some oddities on Google Play that wouldn’t have occurred on iTunes.
First of all, to open an account, you need a wallet. In my wallet is my credit card and a bunch of vouchers that came with my Nexus7. It’s a UK credit card, with a verified UK address, and obviously I bought the Nexus here around the corner! Last week, during my holiday in Turkey, I couldn’t buy (I could update!) any apps as they were not available in the country I was in. Same thing for a book I wanted to buy. Despite my UK credit card, me physically being away from home was enough reason for Google to deny me the privilege of buying from their store.
Now that wouldn’t have happened with Apple. Whilst in Belgium for all those days when Karen was in hospital in Belgium, Apple never denied me buying something from their store. Unlike Apple, Google hasn’t taken into account that you could be travelling.

Now I’m back in the UK and thought I’d buy the book I wanted! So there we go… Google had given me a reasonable amount of credit on the Google Play store, so that I could buy a bunch of stuff. Today is the first day that I’d get over my intitial allowance, so my credit card should be used! But guess what, it’s part of my wallet and cannot be used. No reason given.
It’s the same card as the one I use with Apple, so maybe I should go back buying content with Apple. Seem reasonable enough, not?

And where on earth is the Google helpdesk?

Oh yeah… it’s not only Google Play that thinks you cannot travel, although situation isn’t exactly the same here…

Apple Time Machine Scheduler

August 22, 2012 Comments Off on Apple Time Machine Scheduler

Time Machine Scheduler for Mac, there are a bunch of apps out there for that claim to take care of that. Nonetheless, there’s none out there that either did the job or either had the interface I wanted. After giving it a bit more thought, all I wanted was to switch Apple’s backup mechanism on and off at certain moments of the day.
So if the job is simple, keep the solution simple: MacOS X is a Unix OS so crontab to the rescue!
In a terminal window:
sudo crontab -e

This should get you into vi where you type i (for insert) and then copy:

0 0,10 * * * defaults write /Library/Preferences/ AutoBackup -bool true
0 7,17 * * * defaults write /Library/Preferences/ AutoBackup -bool false

Then type: <esc> : x <return>

As a reminder, the syntax for crontab:

Minute Hour Day of Month Month Day of Week Command

Above code should enable the backup at midnight and at 10am (when I’m either sleeping or in the office), and disable it at 7am and 5pm when I often am home.

Doing well

July 18, 2012 Comments Off on Doing well

Quick note to follow up on previous post How am I doing? 

Karen has her new knee. She seems to be able to walk decent distances nowadays. Her recovery was stalled mainly due to an infection (as large as an egg) right where she sits…hmmm. Not just a tiny bit inconvenient, because whereas walking was difficult after the hip replacement, this time sitting was something she had to practice!

Anyway, that’s done. She had another mammogram. Nothing to be seen there, which was a huge relief. So Karen is back in UK and hopefully that is permanent now!

I’m now 3 months into my new job and loving it. In two to three months, I’ll be working for a new company again. Only this time, it’ll not be down to me making a move, but rather down to Dell making strategic acquisitions by moving into the enterprise software industry. From what I can see at this point in time, Dell & Quest Software seem like a perfect match as there will be very little overlap and we will complement strongly some of Dell’s previous acquisitions. And face it, the industry can use another bigger player to compete with HP, IBM and Oracle.

How am I doing?

March 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

Fairly well, thank you for asking.

I haven’t felt this good since a long while. Not that I feel ecstatic or so, but I’ve been on such a low for such a long time that any improvement feels good. I’ve had a number of people asking how I was, and although I didn’t really feel like going over our ordeals, I had to explain. So for those in the know, skip next section…
For the others: Karen had to be admitted to hospital on the day I found my new job in London. All in all a relatively harmless but very painful disease in the intestines. I moved to London in July while she was still serving her notice. During that period, she went for her last mammogram in Brussels and that turned out not to be such good news. The cancer and pre-cancerous tissue were removed during two surgeries in August. That was followed in September and October with radiotherapy (luckily nothing in the glands, which meant no chemo!). Side effect of the radiotherapy was that her arthritis became very aggressive, leaving her hip bone-on-bone! On top of that, she can’t stretch her left leg anymore. So in January, she had a new titanium hip.
Insurance issues meant that she officially still lives in Belgium to receive treatment there. No way she could get private insurance with a pre-condition in the UK.
In November, I lost my job. A bit of a sad event, but a relief as I had personally started looking out for something else. I clearly wasn’t the right person at the right time. At least we shared that sentiment. I got an offer from a manger at Oracle, but they failed to hire me as the rules for re-hire interfered with my move to UK. The people in the US were convinced that I should survive in London on a Belgian gross salary (without the car, vouchers, rep costs, social security at 35% employer side,…), so they translated my Belgian gross salary into $ and then back into £. Silly Americans! As IF! (FYI: that was a salary decrease of well over 20% over previous job)

So here we are. I received a job offer last week to start on April 15th. Karen’s hip is really good. Only thing to get sorted now is her knees. If all goes well, she should have a new knee and be able to do a little dance before the start of the Olympics.
We’re looking forward to that! Maybe we can start planning again on getting married (yes, we’re still engaged).

The New iPad in the UK and why you should wait!

March 12, 2012 Comments Off on The New iPad in the UK and why you should wait!

So what are the main features of the New iPad that should convince you to upgrade?

1. Retina Display. Cannot discuss about this, it’s a great new addition and will probably enhance your experience browsing and using the few apps out there that can take advantage!
2. 5MP iSight camera. 5MP is not something that would necessarily wow me nowadays to start with. Fact remains that there’s not much room in the ultrathin machine for a camera. Anyone who knows about optics will realise that the quality will never be any good.
But what when you don’t need that quality, shouldn’t this suffice? Maybe, but I’ve been to a couple of events where people were taking photographs with their iPad and I can honestly say that it’s the clumsiest camera I’ve ever seen, especially if you want it to focus where you want!
Only positive here is that it’s probably the largest display I’ve ever seen, no complaints there!
3. iPhoto Great addition, but also available on the iPad 2. So although it’s on the “new features” list of the new iPad, it really isn’t.
For the people who still have the first version of the iPad: with the iPhone Configuration Utility you can enable the iPhoto program on your device. It’s not officially supported, but you’re only using Apple programs to enable it, so it’s not like you have to go jailbreaking your device to get it to work.
4. 4G
Let me just paraphrase the website:

The new iPad supports fast mobile networks the world over — up to 4G LTE.2 So you can browse the web, stream content or download a film at incredibly fast speeds. It also works on GSM/UMTS worldwide network technologies, including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA — the fastest 3G networks out there. You’ll see downlink speeds up to 42 Mbps with DC-HSDPA and up to 21.1 Mbps with HSPA+.3

So I’ve been in touch with O2 here in the UK, apparently they’d be the first to roll out 4G and have already tested in London (afaik).
So here’s my conversation with O2:

@mreys: What frequencies will the 4G @O2 network work on? Same as USA?
@O2: @mreys 4G on the O2 network works on the European LTE bands 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz. USA is 700 MHz and the AWS band.
@mreys: @O2 practically that makes the 4G part of The New iPad not possible in the UK, or do you know if there’s going to be a European iPad?
@O2: @mreys No idea, we’d recommend asking Apple on that one. 🙂

So that’s what I did:

Hi, my name is Veronica. Welcome to Apple!
Veronica: Hi there, thank you for contacting the chat team. How can I help?
You: Hi, I have a question about the new iPad and its 4G capabilities
Veronica: Certainly, I would be happy to help you.

Veronica: I understand, I am checking this for you.
Veronica: The iPad wifi and 4g model will work on LTE (700, 2100 MHz)
You: so not in Europe
Veronica: No, not at the moment just the above.

You: thank you

So there you have it: the only really valid reason to upgrade to the new iPad if you live in UK (and by extension Europe) is the new Retina display. I’d wait a little if I were you 😉

UPDATE: investigated a bit further when I mentioned this to them. Remarks: This new iPad does have HSPA+, which apparently is 3G on speed, but not really LTE yet. So it’s faster than ordinary 3G and will be available in UK (and Europe). The new iPad has new graphics processor, which makes it more suitable for playing games. (As I’m not a gamer, something I tend to overlook).