Category Archives: geek stuff

Jumping from Garmin to Wahoo

Along with preparation for doubles is checking on my GPS recording device … in other words, if I do a double, I want proof.  This really didn’t become an issue until I did a training ride, a 100 mile ride from my house to the Cliff House in San Francisco.  By the time I finished, I had a low battery indicator for the last 20 miles.  When I finally sync’d it, I discovered it had 4% battery life left.  This was just short of 8 hours of run time.  Sure, I could just re-charge it, mid-way through, with one of those portable battery chargers, but that’s inconvenient, and a pain.

Now we’ve all had problems with Garmin before, like not recording sometimes, GPS being way off … I’ve heard many really positive things about Wahoo, so this is the perfect opportunity to buy one.  After evaluating reviews, I decided to go with Wahoo Element, for both price, features, and more importantly, battery life.  It does advertise on its spec up to 17 hours battery life.  I went with this, over Roam, only because I didn’t need the pretty color maps, and the turn-by-turn, I figure I could get with Element.  Besides, I’m used to just downloading a course.  The price was good, $239, as opposed to $380 for the Roam.

It’s a nice big display, and I like the fact that you can zoom in/out, to display larger fonts with less number of fields, and if you zoom out for smaller fonts, it will display more number of fields.

The turn-by-turn, is displayed while viewing the map, so that’s pretty nice.  Even if you are not in the map view, it will give you an overlayed dialog, telling you where you need to turn.  However, I haven’t figured out, if you suddenly want to abandon the course, how to turn off the turn-by-turn navigation.  Gotta play with that a little more.

Ok, now to the gripes I have, after only a week playing with this.  First, you download the Wahoo app, and you control the Element via the smartphone app.  However, in order to connect to it, you need to have it connect via bluetooth.  However, I’ve found you can’t connect, as long as you have an already existing bluetooth connection on your phone.  For example, if you have a fitness watch paired via bluetooth on it (I happen to have a Garmin Vivoactive paired up with it), the app won’t find the Element GPS unit.  I was able to connect to it, if I reboot my phone.  I think even that was just a lucky chance.

After many Google searches, and browsing through Wahoo web site, I found that you have to disable all bluetooth connections, then connect from the Wahoo app to the Wahoo GPS (and no, you cannot try to connect from the bluetooth control panel).  So I had to disable bluetooth connection from my Vivoactive watch, headset, and any other bluetooth connections, then have Wahoo connect.  This same process holds true when you sync the ride from your Wahoo GPS, to the Wahoo app on the smartphone, and then eventually upload it to Strava, or whatever fitness app you prefer.

When I first got the Wahoo Element, it kept wanting me to update the firmware.  Now Wahoo updates firmware via Wifi, so the Wahoo Element is a Wifi client.  I tried for a week to update the firmware, but I couldn’t, even though it does have a proper Wifi connection.  Again, after many Google searches, I finally found the Element Wifi client only supports 2.4 GHz channel, and my standard on my WiFi Access Point is 5G.  Wow, seems like we are re-gressing in technology.  I had to add 2.4 GHz on my AP, then after that, I was able to get it to update the firmware.

The bluetooth thing is stupid, and the Wifi 2.4 GHz thing, was just driving me nuts, especially since I do Tech Support for a living.  It’s not like it’s something that they clearly point out in the documentation that comes with the box, because all it has is a getting started leaflet, which doesn’t go into any detail at all.

I really wish they could add some notes, in the Getting Started leaflet, that updating firmware requires 2.4 GHz wireless, and that sync’ing requires all other bluetooth connections to be disabled.  For a product that is trying to claim they are technologically advanced, these two things brings it backwards.  I wonder if the same problem occurs on Roam or Bolt.

That Annoying Little Spacer

Excited about my new wheels, I went ahead and changed my freewheel cassette over to my new Williams 25 Disc wheel.  Installed everything, and took it for a short spin.  However, something didn’t feel or sound right (like a little clicking).

Upon further inspection, I found the cogs were loose.  So I tightened the lock ring further, but still too much free play.  So I transferred the cassette back to the old wheel, and it’s as snug as can be.  Put it back over, and the same problem.  After an hour of really close inspection, I looked at the old wheel, and in the back of the freewheel, I found a really tiny spacer (one that you couldn’t tell unless you inspect it really closely).  I transferred that little spacer over, and now the cassette is as snug as can be.

Luckily I inspected this closely before going on my turkey day spin.  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Blogs Are Now Secure

It’s funny what you find out through Security Podcasts … while on the drive to LA, I was listening to the latest Security Now podcast, and found out all our wordpress blogs now are accessible via a secure SSL connection.  Woohoo!!!  And we didn’t have to do anything … no extra registrations needed … it just works.  Thanks WordPress!!!

T-Mobile Performance Pretty Good Here in LA

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Every month, I make the drive down to LA to visit my dad, and most of the time, I stay an extra day to work from here (just so that I can spend an extra day with dad).  The WiFi here in the complex is slow (about 1 mbit/sec), so with the 4G speed being so good, time to make use of the Hotspot feature on my phone.

Now this does get dead spots when I’m traveling on I-5 between Hwy 152 to Hwy 41, so that does suck … But as long as I get back to LA with a good signal, I’m happy.

Shimano Camera Really Needs Better Support

So yesterday, I had a frustrating experience.  I had just completed a good butt kicking 70 mile ride to China Grade, and had various things recorded.  I heard an audible from the camera indicating that either 1) battery died or 2) ran out of flash space.

So I launched the wifi app, and saw one was a big 22 min video.  Through the wifi app, I tried accessing it, and eventually I lost connectivity.  No big deal, let me try again … I try turning it on, and I get some annoying repetitive beeps from the camera.  So I struggled with this, by re-insert the flash card, and still no go.  Unfortunately, because of this, you can’t turn the camera on … it immediately shuts off.  That also meant I had no way to manage the camera, tweak settings, etc.

I even went out to purchase a 32 GB micro-SD card from Best Buy, but still, no go.  As a last ditch effort, I tried taking the micro-SD out of the Shimano, and put it into my Go Pro, and wow … I found it reported SD ERR.  WTF … So I format both micro-SD cards on my Windows 7 PC.  They both format successfully on the PC, and I can view the folder on Windows Explorer.  Take it to the Go Pro, and still, SD ERR.

I was able to get the Go Pro to navigate through the menu, to format the micro-SD card, and it was successful.  I then took the very same micro-SD card, put it in the Shimano, and voila, it now reads it … more importantly, it turns on.

This is definitely one big negative with the Shimano Sports Camera.  I guess when I viewed the video, it somehow corrupted the micro-SD card, to the point where the camera did not recognize the card.  There still has to be some way to format this on the PC, to the point where either Shimano or Go Pro can accept the micro-SD card.

There really isn’t a specific avenue for tech support for the Shimano Camera.  When you go to the Shimano site, it suggests you go through the dealer (but I highly doubt they will have any technical expertise in this area).

Rocking Out While Riding Safely

Going out on a ride, if you are riding solo, sometimes you like to rock out, listening to your favorite tunes, but that generally means headphones, and by law, you need to have at least one ear exposed. Now, whether or not people out riding, listening to music, has both ears covered, or only one, who knows.

Now there’s a new product, made by Aftershokz that features headphones that don’t cover the ears. That’s right, you can listen to your music, and still hear background noise all around you.

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The technology is called bone conduction, and it vibrates against the front of the ear. This is pretty cool, not just because of the safety aspect of it, but you don’t have that annoying ear bud stuck in your ear.

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The actual surface of the part that goes in front of the ear is flat.  When you put it on, it feels comfortable.  It’s pretty freaky to listen to your music, and talking to someone, at the same time, and be totally coherent.

There are a number of different versions of the headset … There is just the standard headset, one with a mic (so you can use it to send and receive phone calls), and a Bluetooth version. I found trying to get the Bluetooth version is hard to find, so I just got the wired version with a mic.

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If you do use it for calls, you do need to make sure the controls are pinned to the top of your shirt, so that your voice can reach the mic.

Sound quality? Well, that is not the main focus of this product, and it does lack some bass, so there’s something you have to give up.

Sweat? Some people were concerned about sweat and overall dampness on the membrane, but so far, I haven’t run into any issues.

Overall, I highly recommend this to any commuters (unless you don’t care about music or a podcast). You do hear all the noise around you, and you do have experiment with the volume to get it just right. To me, it’s a win win situation. Listen to tunes, be aware of surroundings, and just enjoy it. I just wish this was more available in LBS or REI, or something like that.

Another Splurge – Helmet Cam

I’ve had my eye on a helmet cam for a while now.  I’ve been seeing so many youtube videos of wild descents bombing down a mountain, and there are so many times I wish I could take a video of my rides, so time to make the plunge.

Now I have read all the reviews, and yes, the GoPro HD seems to have better quality, and seems to be more prevalent.  However, I just don’t like the form factor.  It looks too boxy.  I eventually decided to go with the Contour 1080p HD.  I like the compactness.

The camera is really easy to set up.  It has two laser pointers where you can align the angle of the lens so that you are horizontal.  However, if you mount it on a horizontal or vertical surface, you shouldn’t have to calibrate it too much.

It’s got a big thumb switch, and you just slide it over, and it starts recording.  How easy is that?  However, they can make it as easy as they want, but this doofus will still find a way to screw it up.  You have to turn it on in order to record.  Gee, imagine that.  Actually, what happened was I got a spare battery, so I went and charged it over night.  I mounted but did not turn it on.  I do the record thing, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t on.  I should have known something was up when I didn’t hear a beep.  D’oh.

Here’s a video I took on my inaugural ride into work on Wednesday.  Short video while on the beginning of the San Tomas Aquino Bike Trail

Can’t Really Justify an IPad at this point

When the iPad came out, you couldn’t help but notice the big ad campaign. Apple’s tablet entry was sure a big splash. However, I had just purchased my Asus EeePC net book. The net book is a little thicker and a little wider, but I liked the form factor of it. So when the iPad came out, I kept wondering if I really needed this.

Well, at work, I made some major contributions and they rewarded me with my own iPad. Great, now I don’t have to kick myself for wondering if I should have bought an iPad. What better way than to get it free.

Now I was envisioning powering up the unit, having a list of wifi access points, and connecting. Makes sense, right? Well, not to Apple. No, you have to hook up to iTunes first, before you can do anything on the iPad. this means hooking up to another external computer, that has iTunes updated, then sync to the iPad. What????????

Apple iPad relying on Windows 7 Net Book just to get started!

So I had to hook up a USB cable to my Windows 7 powered net book. How ironic is that? I took the picture above using a droid powered phone, with anApple ipad, connected to an EeePC on Windows 7!

Apple’s prized tablet, relying on Microsoft Windows 7 to get it going? So if you send an iPad to your parents, who doesn’t have a computer, won’t be able to use it. It will be a brick. Major fail!

Multitasking is clunky. I couldn’t figure out how to quit an application or switch between applications until I talked to someone who owned an iPhone. Not very intuitive.

My decision to buy an iPad would be to replace my net book. Well, based on my initial experience, I think I prefer my net book. I can’t really consider the iPad as a tool, but more as a toy. I continually try to find a productive use for this, but the only conclusion I came up with is, it is a toy!

Droid X I have been assimilated

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Ever since apple came out with the iphone, I’ve been wanting a super phone.  But since it was only available with att, I have been holding out.  Why?  Well back when I had cingular wireless (which was later bought by att), they made a ridiculous claim that cell phones are not meant to be used indoors.  That completely insulted my intelligence, so I  vowed never to go to att even if I really liked the phone.  So I was waiting for an iphone equivalent.  Now I think I have found it with the Droid X.

First, apple has been well known for it’s packaging, and the Droid packaging is as minimal a you can get.  The box is almost the same length and width as the phone (about 1 inch wider), with no plastic packaging to cut yourself with.

Transferring service to the new phone was easy.  There is now no reason why you need to go into a phone store if you know exactly what you want.  You dial a special number and they take care of the rest.  Transferring contacts and calendaring is also painless if you have google sync, since everything is on the server … Just sync it.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Ok now to the features.  First it’s got a huge 4.3 inch screen, which means it’s physically bigger.  This makes the iphone look like a toy.  After playing around with the Droid X, then viewing my friend’s iPhone, I have to squint at the iPhone.  When I carry around my Droid X, and when others see it, the first reaction they have is “wow, that’s huge” … err, the phone that is … hehehe.  But actually, it’s not that incredibly huge.  It’s a little larger than your wallet, so you could easily put it in your back pocket.  Plus, when I go on my bike rides, it fits comfortably in my jersey pocket, with no worry about it falling out.

It’s also pretty thin, actually.  It’s a little more than 1/2 inch thick, with is smaller than the original Droid (they can accomplish this since it doesn’t have a slide-out keyboard, which saves on space and on weight).  Oh, and it is a little lighter than most people think.

The camera … so it does have a 8 mp camera, but by default it’s set to 6 mp.  You have to go into the settings, and change it (they figure you’re going to take so many pictures that you’ll run out of space) … come on, it’s got 16 GB flash space … besides, you can offload that to a PC.  So the first thing to do is change it to 8 mp (Thanks to Cali Lewis for the tip).  One thing that I wish it had was camera on front and back facing … this made taking self portraits (without a timer) a little difficult (but that’s being just a little too nit-picky).  This does also mean you cannot do videoconferencing from the phone.  Oh well … like I’m really going to do that?

The panorama feature on the camera is excellent.  It actually uses the internal gyro to synchronize the panorama shots from one frame to the other.  It actually let’s you know when to take the next shot, instead of guessing.  Can’t wait to try that feature out.

Video: it’s got 720p video capability, and it even includes an hdmi port.  One problem … I don’t have an hdmi TV!  Well, I guess that’s next on the list of toys to get.

With the Verizon service, they have a partnership with Blockbuster, so you can rent/buy videos, download them online, and view them from the phone.  I just downloaded “Up in the Air” and the quality is great.  However, there is one problem … playback is not viewable on hdmi.  What???  What’s the point?  So I guess you’ll just have to view the movie on your phone only.  I’ll have to find an hdmi monitor to view, so I can see how it looks with the hdmi output.  This is one big feature the iPhone doesn’t currently have … but I imagine that’s coming around the corner in their next hardware revision.

Now as far as apps are concerned, Apple does beat it hands down … but there are still a large number of apps available for Droid.  I mean it is open source, so just give it some time to catch up.  So far, my favorite app is Buzz Feed, which has a bunch of the latest viral videos, and it’s cool to just view the latest right on that app.  It’s not the most productive, but it is by far the most entertaining (for me, at least).  I haven’t gone around to downloading any games.  I guess I should …

Typing … so not used to typing on a screen, it took me a little while to get used to this.  I kept fat fingering, so I ended up having to turn the phone sideways, just to avoid backspacing from fat-fingering.  Even with that, it’s taking me some time to get used to.  Then, I found, by mistake, how to enably swype.  This is pretty cool that is on the Droid, and not on iPhone.  This allows you to trace over keys of a word, and it will type it on the screen.  You effectively don’t have to lift your fingers off the keyboard to continue typing.  This is really cool, but it can drain the batteries a little more (so there is a little bit of give and take there).  This is not available on the iPhone, because they don’t allow third party vendors from writing to their keyboard.  Since Droid allows you to write to it, that’s why it’s available there.  This does take some getting used to, but just like anything new, once you get the hang of it, it’s not that bad … plus, it’s really slick.

I also tried to create this blog entry completely on my Droid X.  However, some of the apps don’t have the same functionality as their counterparts on PC/MAC.  So although it’s cool to have the WordPress app on the Droid X, I cannot say that it will completely replace the PC … but that’s only because the functionality of the apps themselves are not up to snuff.

I also found that some videos cannot be played on the Droid X (even those that are on youtube).  That’s a bummer.  It will actually tell you that the video cannot be played on the mobile device.

So am I glad I got the Droid X?  You bet … it was a major upgrade from my Blackberry Pearl to the Droid X.  Now, do I regret not getting an iPhone?  Nah, I don’t think so.  Even though the iPhone has more apps, and may be a slightly slicker design, I really can’t complain about the Droid.  Having tight integration of Google apps, like gmail, youtube, etc … is a big plus.  Even though it looks huge compared to other phones, it does fit snugly in my pocket.  It’s perfect in my jersey, so I think I’m a Droid convert.

Lumpy Ride … Guess It’s Time for a New Tire

So I had Continental Grand Prix 4000’s installed on my bike, and I have no idea how many miles it has, but it does have a few.  I rode on the same pair on the Big Basin ride … all 78 miles and 7000+ feet of climbing on it.  Then, I took it for a ride up King’s Mountain, and I descended down Hwy 35 northbound towards 92.  Just before getting to 92, I felt the ride get a little bumpy.  My first thought was flat, but after checking, it was no flat.  So I continued on.

Later, while on Canada Rd, it was just bugging the hell out of me … so I inspected it further, and the tire does have a lateral bump on it.

I inspected the tire, and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.  Tread was not worn down precariously, and there were no punctures … and the wheel is true, so it’s not like there’s a big dent in the rim.  Oh well … gotta shell out for a new pair of tires.  I guess it’s time.