My High Tech Road Bike: The 2018 Edition

Posted in Commentary on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

Last year I bought a new road bike which I used all season long to not only ride in Newfoundland, but take part in the GTA Epic Tour last year. This year, I’ve decided to amp it up a notch. I’ve made two significant changes to the bike which will make it faster than it already is.

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As you can see, I have new wheels installed thanks to the fine folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Toronto. I decided to move away from aluminum wheels to carbon fibre wheels because carbon fibre is not only light, strong and stiff but is also perfect for creating aerodynamic shapes. Seeing as I ride an aero bike, that means that in theory I can get some extra speed via these wheels. Thus I made the move to Giant’s SLR 1 Aero front and rear wheels. These carbon fibre wheels are 55 mm in depth which allows one to cut through the air more efficiently. I was toying with going with a shallower depth wheel like 40mm or 30mm because I was was afraid of crosswinds blowing me all over the road. But I’ve ridden in some windy conditions over the last couple of weeks and the winds are a non issue thus far. When it comes to weight, carbon fibre can be lighter than aluminium. But these wheels only weigh 60 grams less than the ones that they are replacing. I went that route because I am willing to take a bit of a weight penalty to get some extra durability. In terms of if they live up to the speed promise, the answer is yes. I’ve set some personal records on Strava since getting these wheels on roads where I can spin up to 40 Kph or faster which is where the advantage of having these wheels comes into play.

To add to the wheels, I got Mavic Yksion Pro UST tires which are tubeless tires. To explain what tubeless tires are, let me take a step back an explain the other tire technologies that bikes use:

Tubular: These are tires that have an inner tube sewn into them thus it makes up a single unit. Then the tire is glued to a compatible rim. The advantage is that this setup has low rolling resistance and great stability because it’s a complete unit. The downside is cost. Some of these tires cost upwards of $400 or $500. Which is why only racers tend to use these tires.

Clincher: This is what you commonly see on bikes which is a tire with a completely separate inner tube inside which are mounted to a compatible rim. While the cost is much, much lower. Rolling Resistance is higher than tubular tires. Which means you have to put in some extra work to get up to the same speed. You also have to run them at high pressures to avoid “pinch flats” which is what happens where a clincher tire with lower than normal pressure pinches the inner tube and creates a hole which causes the tire to deflate.

Tubeless tires changes things by being a tire that does not use an inner tube at all. Thus you’re eliminating the weight of the tube along with the rolling resistance that the tube creates by rubbing against the tire. The tire and the rim must be compatible because the tire has to create an air tight seal along the edge of the rim. But assuming that they are, it brings out a second advantage. You can run these tires with lower pressures which increases comfort if you’re doing something like the famous Belgian cobbled climbs used in races like the Tour Of Flanders or the pave of northern France that is used in the famous Paris Roubaix bike race. Another addition is the introduction of liquid sealant inside the tire which can fill in small holes on the fly. Meaning that the chances of getting flats while you ride should be greatly reduced. The final advantage is price. You’re basically getting performance approaching tubular tire levels for slightly more than the price of a clincher tire. I’ve been using these tires for a few weeks now and they live up to their promise. I even had something puncture the tire on my most recent ride and the sealant kept me rolling.

One other change that I’ve made for 2018 is not on the bike, but with my helmet. I have acquired the Mavic Ksyrium Pro MIPS Helmet. Every cyclist regardless of age, ability or where they ride should wear a helmet as it is entirely possible to crack your skull riding a bike at walking speed. The key reason why I went with this specific helmet is that it has the MIPS system in it. This is system that is designed to protect your head, brain and neck from the rotational forces of a crash. In short, the helmet takes those forces so that you’re likely to have a brain, neck, or head injury. Or reduce the severity of those injuries. I got mine in day glo yellow to ensure that I am seen at all times by motorists when I cycle as every little bit of safety helps. If you look closely at the picture above, you may notice that I am also using lights to add to my safety on the road. I am using this combination of front and rear lights because they blink to alert motorists to your presence both in the daytime and at dusk. Another reason is that the cycling club that I belong to requires the use of lights on all club rides to ensure the safety of all who participate.

I’ll be riding this bike in at least two events this year. I’ll be doing the 65K event at the Gran Fondo Ottawa in July, and the 80K event at the PWC Epic Tour in September. I may add a third event this year. But we’ll see. In the meantime, I am out riding multiple times a week putting in the miles to make sure I am in shape for those events. If you have any questions about this bike and what’s on it, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer it. Right now, I think I’ll go out for a ride.

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Top Social Media Trends of 2018

Posted in Commentary on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

By Kristina Skindelyte, Co-Founder of Blue Oceans PR

Social media waits for no brand. And just like everything internet-related, it changes fast. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg’s Congress hearings, and the General Data Protection Regulation might have shaken the social media world recently, but the process continues. Social media has developed – and is still developing – in interesting ways. Here are the top 5 trends shaping the social media landscape in 2018.

1. Stories Replace Feeds

With the rise of smartphone adoption and mobile video came a serious change to content production: stories are now replacing feeds. These vertical video montages are easy to make and consume on mobile devices. And while the format was first popularized by Snapchat, currently Instagram and Facebook are taking the lead. Gen Z especially prefers stories since they are often sent through more private channels and don’t stay up permanently like feed posts on Facebook or Twitter.

In this new era that’s moving away from desktop-oriented feeds, brands have to use stories to their fullest. This involves increased use of emoji and stickers, which are popular with Gen Z. Instagram is capitalizing on that by adding click-to-buy links on stories.

2. Messaging Is Rising

Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat and other messaging platforms are rising fast. With an ever-wider spread of mobile internet and wifi, they are replacing such traditional modes of communication as SMS and calls. The quick growth of mobile video can also be tied to these trends.

For brands, this means an increased focus on chatbots. The Golden State Warriors Facebook Messenger bot served info on the 2017 NBA Playoffs – which led to 4.3 million messages being exchanged in the first two months.  53% of people claim that they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly, so the utility of bots is obvious.

3. Brand participation revived

One of the top trends is brand participation, moving away from Facebook’s inefficient brand contests. It can be as simple as Wendy’s famously snarky Twitter account. Or as complex as SWACE, a new platform that allows brands to design simple games for their audiences – not just as a gimmick; SWACE actually uses blockchain-based tokens. The tokens are used to enter these games – and they’re also the reward. They can later be exchanged for various brand-related prizes.

The games, meanwhile, are a  mix of AR, ephemeral content, messaging, video, photography and voting for community-produced content.

4. Video is trendy and trending

In short, the future of social media seems to be exciting. From AR to gaming and video, the online communication world is ready to enchant and capture the attention of users, helping build deeper social bonds offline as well.

The closing of Vine did not impede the spread of video.  Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all great for sharing short promotional videos. Inspirational stories  make for impactful, easy-to-consume content. That’s what the new Facebook Watch Parties – where you watch videos with friends to see their reactions – are aimed at.

The live streaming part of it is important, too. Two billion people have seen Facebook Live streams, and brands are taking notice of its efficacy. Even sports events are moving to Facebook streaming. Meanwhile, companies targeting the more tech-savvy gaming audience are hosting Twitch streams for their Q&A sessions. This sort of raw, unedited content feels a lot more real and genuine than marketing clips. In addition, the “live” aspect of video triggers that sense of urgency in the same way that ephemeral content does.

5. Augmented Reality is improving your interactivity

Interaction between the real world and things previously limited to computer screens is no longer a sci-fi fantasy. When the world saw Kim Kardashian first use a Snapchat filter, we knew this technology was here to stay. Facebook and even Apple are working on similar developments.

But AR is more than just inserting your Bitmoji into a video or hunting Pokemon in Pokemon Go. For example, the IKEA Place app allows you to preview furniture you want to buy, visualized in your own room. And using the aforementioned SWACE, a company can get consumers to take hilarious holiday photos with the brand’s avatars.

62% Of Children Play Games Where They Interact With Others & Parents Are Concerned: McAfee

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 16, 2018 by itnerd

McAfee has that found the majority (95 per cent) of parents are worried about the risks their kids are exposed to while playing online video games, such as exposure to inappropriate content or nefarious people.

Highlights from the study:

  • 92 per cent of parents allow their children to play at least one hour of video games every day, with 8 per cent admitting that they allow their children to play more than five hours a day.
  • On average, children play video games for 2.13 hours a day or nearly 15 hours a week.
  • 62 per cent of children play games where they directly interact with other players, drastically increasing their risk of being targeted with inappropriate content or asked to share sensitive information.
  • 89 per cent of parents are aware of the dangers of this, with 71 per cent particularly concerned about them being groomed to share sensitive details or being shown inappropriate content such as violence (71 per cent), sexual images (77 per cent) or drugs (63 per cent).
  • 9 per cent admit to not monitoring at all, and 6 per cent don’t talk to their children about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior.
  • 44 per cent of parents admit to letting their children play games even when they are younger than the game’s age rating, with 13 per cent letting children play games with age ratings more than 5 years over their own age. This means that children as young as 12 could be playing games that have been exclusively rated for mature audiences due to intense portrayals of violence, strong sexual themes including nudity and rape, glamorization of use of drugs and more.

To learn more about the study and tips on how families can protect themselves from the risks of playing games online, check out this blog from McAfee’s Gary Davis:
https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/consumer-threat-notices/gaming-risks/

Survey Methodology
McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 5,000 parents of children ages 6 to 16 who play online or console games in Australia, Germany, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K.

#Fail: Apple Maps Routing And Navigation Is DOWN World Wide [UPDATE: Resolved]

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2018 by itnerd

It appears that navigation and routing functions of Apple Maps are down at the moment. If you try to search for an address, this is what you see:apple2

What’s worse is that Apple either doesn’t want to acknowledge that they have an issue, or they are asleep at the switch. I posted this Tweet when I first noticed the issue:

Apple Support responded with this a few minutes later:

This was my reply:

You’d think a company that is approaching 1 Trillion dollars in market cap would be able to search Twitter and find Tweets like these:

And apparently this has been going on for hours which doesn’t look good if you’re Apple. Seeing as Apple isn’t admitting that there’s a problem, nobody knows how long before there is a fix for it. Thus Apple is going to have a long day fixing whatever is going on with Apple Maps and dealing with the PR fallout.

UPDATE:

UPDATE #2: This is now resolved.

Review: KeySmart Nano Torch

Posted in Products with tags on June 15, 2018 by itnerd

I came across something the other day on Amazon that really caught my attention. It was the KeySmart Nano Torch which promises to be the “most powerful tiny flashlight.” And it is tiny.

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It fits on my key chain and hardly takes up any real estate. It’s made of stainless steel so it should survive being in your pocket as well as looking cool in the process. It has a single LED bulb and is powered by a tiny LR521 179 battery. It shows up pre-assembled and all you do to activate it is twist the housing to the left until the light comes on.

So, the central question is, how bright is it? Well, I tested it in this dark room:

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All you can see is the night light in this picture. So it’s pretty dark. But thanks to the Nano Torch, it lit it up pretty easily:

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KeySmart says it’s good for 25 Lumens. given the results here, I believe it.

Gripes? I was trying hard to find something negative to say about this product and I can’t. I think that says something about the Nano Torch.

Thus if you want a bright flashlight that you’re always going to have at hand, this is the one to get. I got my Nano Torch (actually two of them as I got one for my wife) for $20.99 CDN on Amazon. The company sells them direct as well for $19.99 US.

Microsoft Says Windows 10 April 2018 Update Is Ready For Prime Time…. I Say Perhaps Not

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2018 by itnerd

The fine folks at Microsoft put out a blog post which trumpeted it’s use of AI to deliver a smooth roll out of the Windows 10 April 2018 update. Near the end of it, they say this:

Based on the update quality and reliability we are seeing through our AI approach, we are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide. Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.

Quality and reliability? Seriously? Tell that to the people who have been hit by issues related to this update. Most notably this one where your computer is basically unbootable after the update. Now I do have a fix for it but this issue should never have made it out of Microsoft’s QA labs. Then there’s this issue which to Microsoft’s credit they have fixed. And let’s not forget this issue which has been fixed as well. I could go on but I think you see my point here. Which is that this issue has been insanely problematic and Windows 10 users have suffered as a result. And that should never ever happen.

So Microsoft may say this update is ready for prime time. But I say that you should take that with a grain of salt. But if you fell like rolling the dice on this, make sure you have a backup of your computer in case things go south. Which is entirely possible given what has gone on to date.

GrayShift Claims USB Restricted Mode In iOS 12 Is Already “Defeated”

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2018 by itnerd

And so the arms race has begun.

Hot on the heels of Apple admitting that it was looking to stop brute force password exploits via USB by the addition of USB Restricted Mode, GrayShift who makes the GrayKey devices which are popular among law enforcement for cracking into iPhones claims they’ve already “defeated” this feature:

“Grayshift has gone to great lengths to future proof their technology and stated that they have already defeated this security feature in the beta build. Additionally, the GrayKey has built in future capabilities that will begin to be leveraged as time goes on,” a June email from a forensic expert who planned to meet with Grayshift, and seen by Motherboard, reads, although it is unclear from the email itself how much of this may be marketing bluff. “They seem very confident in their staying power for the future right now,” the email adds.

That implies that GrayShift have a beta copy of iOS 12 and they’ve tested it against their devices to come to this conclusion. Assuming they’re telling the truth of course. Which means that as the beta process for iOS 12 continues, Apple will likely try to figure out what they’ve done and close those attack vectors. Then GrayShift will most likely try to find new attack vectors. Thus, the arms race has begun between the two companies. The question is, will either side come out on top?