Upgraded my laptop

I’ve been hauling around my Lenovo W520 laptop for almost 7 years.  The sound no longer works and I’ve replaced the battery. The sound does work through headphones or through the DisplayPort.  It was great powerful laptop that did everything I threw at it.  But it was overdue for a replacement, so I after being a lifelong Windows user I decided to pick up a Macbook Pro 15 (2017). I’ve always admired the Macbook’s design and build quality and this one is no exception.

It’s been a few days and so far it’s great.  The screen and battery on this machine is amazing.  I’m planning to get VMWare Fusion to run Windows 10, so I’m not missing out on my Windows specific apps and games.  This is probably one of my most expensive computers I’ve bought, and I’m hoping it’ll last just as long as my Thinkpad did, and if it does I feel it’ll be worth every penny of it.

Should I run when I’m sick?

Last week my kids got me sick.  Since they recently started school they must have picked up a bug and now spreading it to my wife and I. I decided to rest over the Labor Day weekend and just relaxed.  Earlier in the week I felt pretty good, so I ran an easy 10k (6.2 miles). But the following morning I felt like crap. I guess I didn’t fully recover.  I think I’m going to take a few more days off to try to fully recover (or do super easy runs).  I have the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 4 weeks, and I don’t want have to have anything lingering going into that weekend.

Note 8 Hands-on

So I got my Note 8 a few days ago.  When I first held it in my hand the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was compared to the S7 I was currently using. It’s probably the heaviest smartphone I’ve ever held.  The size of the Note 8 is large as well, but it wasn’t a surprise as my wife has the S8+ which I get to play with it once in awhile.  Like the S8+, it’s fast and smooth. The camera is excellent.  The bokeh effect with the dual camera is a nice feature. It makes regular looking shots look like I took it with an expensive DSLR.  If you have an iPhone 7 Plus then you’ll understand what I mean.

The biggest concern about the Note 8 was the battery life since it has a 200mah small battery than the S8+.  With my first full day of normal use (after installing all the apps and configuring all my settings the day before) the phone was at 71% from 6:30am to 430pm.  This included Always-on-display, about 20-25 Hangout messages, about an hour of web browsing, a few minutes of videos, and about 20 emails. Typically my S7 would be around 40%.  That’s not bad at all.

So far I’m totally digging the phone. I could have done without the curved edge screen, but it doesn’t bother me much as I have a Spigen Tough Armor case where I can hold the phone without touching the screen.

Note 8 or V30?

Samsung announced their Note 8 last week. It was almost the perfect phone except for the 3300 mAh  battery. I was hoping it was going to at least match the S8+ 3500 mAh battery. With the Note7 owner discount offer ($425 off) I decided to use it and preorder the Note 8.

Then a couple of days ago LG announced their V30. The device is quite compelling and as of right now the V30 could be considered a better device. Until I see it in person the Note 8 will be my #1 choice.

No more Instagram posts

Moving forward, I’ve decided to no longer to link my Instagram posts to my blog.  I think it’s redundant. Not sure why but anyone who wants to see them can just follow me on Instagram.

Also it’s been a while since I really had an official blog post. I have a few in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

Southern Watch Straps

In my last post I reviewed the new Pebble Time smartwatch. What I didn’t get a chance to mention was the various straps that I used for the Pebble Time.  Since getting the Pebble Time I wore 5 different types of straps (OEM Pebble, Hirsch Performance, Bonetto Cinturini, Zulu Heavy Duty, and Southern Straps). But the straps that I used the most and consider to be the best nylon (Nato style) strap you can buy for the Pebble Time or any watch that use 22mm straps is Southern Straps.

First and foremost what makes Southern the best nylon base straps is its construction and build quality. Their straps are 2-piece nylons that attaches to the top and bottom of your watch lugs using quick release spring bars. Each of the piece is made of a long durable nylon that is folded over, stitched, and heat-sealed ends. This gives it twice the durability of typical Nato or Zulu straps that you can by today.  Don’t believe me? Southern Straps offers a lifetime warranty on their straps. I checked around and I don’t know any other company that offers that type of guarantee.

As of today I’ve ran over 150 miles with my Pebble Time and Southern straps. That’s hours of my nasty salty sweat and hours of heat and direct sunlight that the straps have endured. And it still looks brand new. In addition, while doing arts and crafts with my son I spilled some paint on my watch strap. I spent 20 minutes with some dish soap and a brillo pad to scrub the paint off. For any other nylon straps there would have been tons of frayed threads, but for my Southern strap it looks untouched. Check out the pictures below.

 

Rating for Southern Straps – www.southernstraps.com
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

Pros:

Extremely Durable
Lifetime Warranty
Lightweight
Comfortable
Utilize quick-release pins for easy strap swaps

Cons:

Expensive
Floating keeper could be shorter by 1 or 2mm (Floats a bit too much)
Needs more color/pattern options
Needs to have more size options (18, 20, 24mm)

 

Pebble Time

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The current state of smartwatches relies heavily on the smartphone you carry with you. For the most part smartwatches acts mainly as a second screen on your wrist giving you notifications of messages, emails, incoming calls, and pertinent information from apps that are installed on your phone. The reasons I chose to get a smartwatch was that I needed a watch that could display the stats of my workout runs, and the ability to notify me of message/calls when I don’t have my phone on me but it is still nearby on my desk or in another room.

Prior to making my decision to go with the Pebble Time I tested 2 other watches; Moto 360 and LG Urbane

The Moto 360 and LG Urbane runs on the Android Wear OS by Google which evidently works with only Android phones. These watches offer the features and functionality that the Pebble Time also provides plus other features such as heart rate monitoring, Google Now voice activation, and among a few others. But unfortunately the battery life for Android Wear lasts at most a day and a half. Just as disappointing is its screen for outdoor visibility. It’s fantastic when indoors, but when I use it with my running app it can be difficult to see when the sun is directly overhead.

The Pebble Time is a watch that takes a different path. It works with both Android and iOS devices and the battery life lasts up to 7 days, but from personal usage 5 days seems to be the norm even with hundreds of notifications alerting throughout the day.  The long battery life is due mainly for its choice of the display technology. It uses a color e-paper technology which is very similar to the Amazon Kindles e-readers. The downsides of using e-paper display is that it has poor visibility indoors, but luckily it has a backlight that can be turned on with a flick of the wrist or a press of a button. Another big factor going for the Pebble Time is it has a large active developer community. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of watchfaces and apps available to install on the watch and all of them are backwards compatible with the previous generation of Pebble watches.

Ultimately, I choose the Pebble Time for two main reasons:

1. The battery life – It’s nice to know that I can still use my watch if I forget to charge it the night before or the last few nights. Even if I drain the battery I can fully charge it within an hour and it’ll last me for another week.

2. Water resistance (up to 30m) – I workout with my watch and I sweat a whole lot. I’ve also showered, wash dishes, and given my children a bath with it. It’s nice to know that it can handle being wet. Unlike the Android Wear watch which can be submerged under 1m of (still) water for 30 minutes which doesn’t provide much confidence in getting wet compared to the Pebble Time.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch I definitely recommend the Pebble Time. But if you’re looking for an Android Wear device I recommend the LG Urbane. It has one of the longest battery life for an Android Wear device and it looks great. There are other options such as the Apple Watch, but my experience with it has been very limited. The smartwatch era is just beginning and it’s only going to get better and more exciting. If you’re the still on the fence on whether to get one I completely understand. As of right now the only justification in getting a smartwatch is if you’re specifically looking for notification device on your wrist or a companion to your workouts.

Rating for Pebble Time
Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Pros:
Long battery life (up to 7 days)
30m Water Resistance
Great outdoor visibility
Works on iOS and Android
Tons of apps and watchfaces

Cons:
Poor indoor visibility (without backlight)
Low resolution screen
Not aesthetically nice as other smartwatches

Unintended consequences of having long hair

Last week the drain in the bath tub began to slowly back up as I showered. The water was ankle deep by the time I was done. I know, gross.  I used Drano to try to unclog the drain, but that didn’t do any good. So I went to Lowe’s and got one of those plastic snake tools with tiny little hooks. I jammed it down the drain and pulled up a glob of hair the size of a small mouse. After some dry heaving due to the grossness of hair and pieces of soap globs the drain was finally clear.

10 years

This month marks 10 years of this website. I never imagined that this blog would still be around. There was a time back in 2008 where I was contemplating to just let the site die off when my domain renewal came.

Over the past 10 years the post topics ranged from random ramblings of nothing to sports to movie and tech reviews that interests me, but the frequency of posts waned in the past few of years due to a big change in my life; becoming a husband then a dad and a dad again all of which couldn’t be more exciting and fulfilling except for maybe being a dad again a few more times.

Anyhow, here’s to another decade of blogging and to the handful of people who stumble upon this site. Thanks for reading.

Nice day for a run

It’s been a while since I did a full track workout on my own. It feels good and exhausting. 

And It’s been an even longer time since I skipped coaching a track season. I miss it a bit, but it also gives me time to rest an be with my family, and this is a much better trade off.