Archive for April 19, 2017

Urban Armor Gear Releases Rugged Cases For Huawei Mate 9 And P10 Devices

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2017 by itnerd

Urban Armor Gear has announced a new line of MIL-SPEC drop-tested cases designed for Huawei’s latest Mate 9, Mate 9 Pro, P10 and P10 Plus devices.

Released in UAG’s signature Plasma Series, the cases fuse an impact-resistant soft core with durable rubberized edges to guard against drops and shocks, and are engineered to provide maximum protection without adding bulk to the device. Striking translucent designs allow the underlying color of the phone to show through and maintains the ruggedized style that UAG is known for.  As with all UAG cases, the cases for Huawei’s latest products meet military drop-test standards (810G-516.6) and are designed to protect devices whether in the office or out on the trail.

Plasma Series Cases Features:

  • Feather-light composite construction
  • Armor shell and impact resistant soft core
  • Non-slip ruggedized grip
  • Easy access to touchscreen and ports
  • Scratch resistant skid pads and screen surround
  • Compatible with fingerprint sensor
  • Meets military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6)

The MSRP is $39.95 USD. Find out more at urbanarmorgear.com

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OpenTable’s bot for Facebook Messenger Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2017 by itnerd

OpenTable is introducing a new way for diners to search and make restaurant reservations directly through Facebook Messenger. With OpenTable’s bot for Messenger, diners around the globe can make reservations at more than 40,000 restaurants worldwide directly from within Messenger through the new Chat Extensions feature.

OpenTable’s bot for Messenger makes planning a meal with friends even easier by enabling diners to search and suggest available restaurants to friends as well as make reservations through the bot without leaving Messenger. It’s an easy, collaborative way to pick the perfect spot for a friend’s birthday dinner, a special occasion or an upcoming trip.

How to make a reservation:

  • From any Messenger conversation, select the OpenTable bot by tapping the Chat Extensions icon(+) on the bottom left of the Messenger app.
  • Pick an available restaurant to recommend and share with friends.
  • Once a collective restaurant decision is made, instantly book a table.
  • Share the restaurant reservation confirmation with friends.

 

Apple Offers Up iWork, GarageBand & iMovie Apps For Free

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2017 by itnerd

Apple yesterday updated several of its Mac and iOS apps, making them available for all Mac and iOS users for free. So in short, all Mac and iOS users can get the following apps from the App Store for free:

  • iMovie
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Pages
  • GarageBand

Now let me clarify that free part. Previously, Apple made these apps free to those who bought new hardware back in late 2013. But if you had older hardware that was made before that date, you were out of luck and you had to pony up some cash to get these apps. Now any Mac user or iOS user can get them for free. The question is, why would Apple do this. I have some thoughts on that:

  • One thought is that Apple wasn’t getting many takers in terms of people buying these apps. Thus they decided to shift to just offering them up for free.
  • Another thought is that Apple sees itself as a services company. For example, selling space on iCloud. This might be a way to get people to further user services like iCloud as these apps integrate tightly with iCloud.
  • It might be a sign that Apple might be getting ready to deep six development on some of these apps. Specifically the iWork apps (Number, Keynote, Pages) as compared to Microsoft Office for Mac, they’re missing some really key features such as pivot tables. It may not be worth Apple’s time to continue to develop them, thus they just made the call to make them free for all.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough which one, if any of those thoughts are true. In the meantime, you might want to grab a copy of these apps seeing as they’re free and all. I will be doing that for my wife on the MacBook Pro that she uses as that falls into the category where she can get these apps for free.

My New High Tech Road Bike

Posted in Commentary on April 19, 2017 by itnerd

I’m a high tech guy. But my love for tech isn’t restricted to computers, smartphones and cars. That love shows up in other aspects of my life. Take cycling for example. I love road cycling and I even raced when I was much younger. These days it’s a great way to relax and to stay fit. I also challenge myself by doing long rides, like the ones that I did on vacation last year. I need a bike that can matches my abilities and thanks to the fine folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Toronto, I have such a bike:

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Meet the Giant Propel Advanced 1 road bike which is an almost direct reflection of what they supply to the German based Sunweb Pro Cycling Team. The frame is made mostly of carbon fiber (the steerer tube that goes from the handlebars to the forks is aluminum) and is designed to be stiff. That means that every pedal revolution translates to forward momentum. It’s also designed to be light. This bike as I have it built weighs in at 17 pounds. To put that in perspective, the UCI which governs bike racing around the world has a rule that race bikes have to weigh a minimum of 15 pounds. So while my bike isn’t super light, it isn’t super heavy either. Finally it’s designed to cut through the air efficiently. To aid in that, the frame is shaped to make sure that there’s little to no drag. For example, if you look at the back wheel, you’ll note that the seat tube is cut out so that the wheel can fit in nice and close so that it doesn’t create drag. There’s another design feature that helps it to cut through the air:

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On most bikes, the front brakes are on the front of the forks. On this bike, they’re on the rear to reduce drag. Plus Giant has chosen to use “V” style brakes to make them conform better to the shape of the forks.

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To ensure that I am riding as efficiently as possible and I will keep my flat tires to a minimum, I replaced the tires that came with the bike with these Continental Gatorskin tires. The Continental brand is used by some of the top pro cycling teams in the world and I’ve always had very good luck with them personally. The Gatorskin tire is extremely puncture resistant as well as having low rolling resistance. Which means that you use less power to go fast.

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The key components on the bike are supplied by Shimano. Specifically, they’re the Ultegra group of components which are a direct reflection of what Shimano supplies their pro race teams at a price point that you can afford. This particular setup gives me 22 forward gears, which means that I have a gear for any situation that I find myself in be it on the flats, on a decent, or on a climb.

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I also use the Shimano Ultegra clipless pedals. Combined with special cycling shoes that have cleats that clip into these pedals, these help me to pedal efficiently. To keep the weight of the pedals low, they have a fair amount of carbon fiber in them. That means that the pair of pedals weighs 260g.

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Another area where I utilize carbon fiber to keep the weight of bike low is the water bottle cages. These Sefras Vendetta carbon water bottle cages weigh in at 19g each. But they hold water bottles really well regardless of how smooth or rough the roads I ride on.

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The coolest piece of tech that I have on the bike is this Garmin Edge 520 cyclocomputer. Besides using GPS to accurately track how far you ride and measure your speed, it includes a technology called ANT+ which allows you to tirelessly add a variety of sensors that can measure all sorts of aspects of your riding performance. For example, pro cyclists often have power meters to measure how many watts of power their legs put out, cadence sensors to measure how fast they pedal, and heart rate monitors to get an idea of if they’re reaching their physical limits. In my case, I only use the heart rate monitor and cadence monitor as those aspects are important to me. The Garmin Edge 520 also pairs with my iPhone via Bluetooth and an app called Garmin Connect allows the computer to automatically upload my data to my Strava account when my ride ends. That’s important for me as I like to see my stats and figure out how well I am, or not doing. Plus I can see calls and text messages when I ride which means that I don’t have to reach for my phone if I so choose. Finally, it has a feature called Incident Detection. If it detects a fall, it will use a Bluetooth paired smartphone that has the Garmin Connect app running to text message your loved ones. It’s an extra piece of safety that I appreciate when I am out for a ride.

I’ve ridden this bike on a number of training rides since I got it a few weeks ago. It is FAST. It handles well and is clearly stiff as you feel that your effort directly translates to going fast. Though that stiffness also does result in bumps being transmitted to your body. I’m currently trying to tweak my position to account for that. Via the data that gets uploaded to Strava, I have set a number of personal bests and gotten top 3 results on various Strava Segments.  Normally, I can’t come anywhere close to that in April as my fitness on the bike isn’t that good. Thus it has to be the bike that is at least partially responsible for that. I’m going to love riding this bike this year and beyond as I have some plans for it. Right now my main plan is to ride the GTA Epic Tour for the third year in a row. But my wife and I are working on a two week vacation as well this summer to ride our bikes. I’ll be blogging about that when it happens.

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.