Tag Archives: thoughts

Pebble Steel

Pebble’s announced a new watch, well, not really a new watch but a stainless steel version of their smart watch and it looks amazing! Priced at US$250 Pebble looks like it grew up, finished university and got a job…

Pebble Steel Smart Watch

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the current Pebble by any means. I use my Kickstarter edition Pebble almost daily between university and my part time job. I charge it about once a week (and usually have a weekly panic that I can’t find the cable) and it has to be one of my favourite gadgets of the last few years.

However, the plastic finish scratches really easily during day to day life. I have a GadgetWrap and screen protector on mine, but that doesn’t really help Pebble’s image with people. “Your watch has a screen protector?!” I hear fairly regularly. The glass screen on the Pebble Steel goes a long way to helping the image. Additionally, it looks like a watch you could easily buy at your favourite department store which is a nice bonus. I don’t think that the extra $100 is excessive at all, perhaps some people should go watch shopping to compare prices? It’s nice that they haven’t messed with the internals of the new Steel watch meaning that developers of applications for the watch aren’t going to be split between ‘old’ and ‘new’. Oh yeah, Pebble is finally getting around the launching their promised App store this month! Yipee!

For people moaning about the price, go buy a Galaxy Gear (for between £200-£300 based on my quick google search) and look forward to charging it nightly, taking pervy photos with the tiny camera in the strap, and hoping that you have one of the few phones that it interacts with.

Pebble Steel Smart Watch

I’ll take my Pebble any day. I don’t need to answer calls on my watch. Most days I have my stereo bluetooth headset on for music anyway, and it can take calls (when I rarely receive one that isn’t about PPI). Nor do I need to take photos from my wrist (as much as my girlfriend disagrees with this point), or a colour screen to see the time or my notifications. Not being able to change the strap isn’t exactly a good thing, either.

For me, my pebble is a way of getting notifications from my pocket to my wrist when I can’t get my phone out for whatever reason. That, and I like gadgets so I never really needed a justification for backing the Kickstarter campaign in the first place back in 2012!

I still think Pebble has a long way to go but they are definitely on the right road. This should be an interesting and exciting product category to watch throughout 2014! What will Samsung do with the Gear? Are Apple about the release their revolutionary iWatch?

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Goals for this week

Once a week I’m going to post a list of things I want to achieve in the next week, and then the following week I will post again to see if I achieved those things! Here goes!

I have a week off this week, no uni and no work. So therefore I want to get my Raspberry Pi well on the way to being functional. That should take a day or two on and off, and will be pretty cool when it’s done.

Reading wise I am midway through Breakfast of Champions on my Kindle so I want to make some more progress through that and then maybe start another book in my backlog. Possibly one of the massive books by Neal Stephenson! Gaming? Maybe a few sessions of Roller Coaster Tycoon, since I’m slowing working my way through completely all the park challenges included with RCT1. I’m currently up to Diamond Heights.

On top of this, I want to ride 5-10 miles each day (Monday-Friday) depending on if I can get my seat fixed / replaced. It is bloody uncomfortable! Maybe it’s just my arse, who knows? This is probably the most important goal of the week, I think.
Be sure to read the follow-up next week!

iPad for Students

I get really bored when people tell me that my iPad is useless and I shouldn’t of bought it. Apparently I can’t use it for anything productive at all. Well, the thing that this sort of person usually gets wrong is that they think the iPad (or any tablet to be honest!) can take the place of a laptop or desktop. It can’t. It wasn’t meant to. If you can find good uses for it, then buy one; if you can’t then don’t!

My iPad is primarily used to read Kindle eBooks and lecture notes both in Powerpoint and PDF format. It is also my main podcast consumption device, and honestly rarely does it get used for games; I’m currently far too in love with my 3DS. Anyway, this article was meant to give you a run down of what productivity apps I use on a regular basis and how I use them.

Let’s start with Evernote! This is one of my favourite services ever! On my laptop (see, I don’t try and use my iPad for everything!) I am drafting this post in Evernote, but where it gets really cool is how it stores and organises my uni notes (by lecture: organic, inorganic, environmental, phys chem etc) and how I can make revisions from it, and later access them on my laptop!

I take all my notes using a Livescribe smart pen (a topic for another article, also when I bought my smartpen they had a promotion for a years free evernote included!), and it handily converts them to PDF which I then file away in Evernote. If I write neat enough, Evernote even makes them searchable. But mainly the attractive factor is I can have all of my past notes (Well, from January 2012 anyway) available on any computer I use (obviously including the iPad…) I’ve always been told taking good notes saves you later and now I know why. It’s amazing. I tried taking notes with a stylus on the iPad directly and found the experience to be in a word: ‘shit’.

Next up is GoodReader. This is probably the best PDF reader I’ve found yet. I particularly being able to make annotations really easily. It’s great! Scribbling over presentations making extra notes is really handy. If you have loads of content to transfer over, it contains a built in webserver so that you don’t have to faff around with iTunes.

LastPass is another of my productivity apps which allows easy and secure access to all of my passwords for the various services that I use. I wouldn’t remember random passwords, and making them easily memorable means I’d fall into the trap of most likely always using the same password. Bad. Lastpass: good. Not really a productivity app; but an app I use all the time nevertheless.

WolframAlpha! Any science student knows just how handy Wolfram Alpha is. It’s pretty much a calculator on steroids. Type in the name of a chemical, and it’ll load up the structure and all sorts of really useful data. Formula, compound, IUPAC name, molecular weight. As I said, a lifesaver for science students. By the way, the molecular weight of eicosapentaenoic acid is 302.5 g mol-1. It is also an approved dietary supplement, which is in the form of an oral capsule. Give it an equation, and it’ll attempt to balance it for you, give you the equilibrium constant and properties for all of the reactants and products. As I already said, it’s pretty damn useful.

The next app I want to write about is Dropbox. I use Dropbox to keep my game saves and documents in sync between my computers (not so much since my PC died, meh..) and the Dropbox iPad app lets me access any of these files in a pinch if I need to access them, email them to my lecturer or something like that. It’s also handy for getting wallpapers and other assorted crap onto my tablet without having to go through iTunes. Additionally there are many apps that support saving their files to cloud storage services such as Dropbox.

You might of noticed I didn’t mention any word processing apps. Wondering why? Because I found them all terrible! None of them offer decent compatibility with Microsoft Office which is what I use extensively for my assignment work. I tried loading up my research project in Quickoffice…It ignored the first page break; completely broke the formatting of the table of contents; added loads of space between bullet points; completely ignores equations from Word’s equations editor; disregarded the formatting of my tables; replaced two tables with a single Chinese character…. Yeah.. not the best! If you just write up simple essays I guess it might work for you, when paired with a bluetooth keyboard; but anything complicated and it falls flat on it’s face. There is a cloud service called CloudOn that connects your dropbox account to a hosted session of Microsoft Office. I found it to work really well; the only problem is that I can’t rely on my internet connection all the time, and therefore it’s pointless for me. If you always have internet it might be worth checking it though

This is why I said when I started this article that the iPad has its place and the laptop still has its place. I couldn’t replace my laptop with an iPad or other tablet even if I wanted to until the word processing offerings improve. I still can’t find an app that supports super and subscript! The iPad is awesome for reading documents (beats carrying heaving books!); managing notes; and for basic research which is everything I want it to do. The people that tell you the iPad is useless haven’t found a use for it and that is the key. Plus it is shiny. And I like shiny things.

Lenovo Ideapad Z575: Initial Thoughts

My new laptop has the new AMD Llano platform chips buried within; both the 1.5Ghz AMD A8 CPU and a 6620M (the lower powered graphics card) as well as a 6650M. The model code of my particular model is M75D7UK. Other than that, it has a blu-ray reader, a 15 inch 1366×768 display and weighs about 2.5kg.

I’ve had the machine for just under a week and already I love it. Yes it’s bulkier than my MacBook Air which I sold to get this Lenovo; but it plays Skyrim! No, really, it does! See these screenshots!

Skyrim Screenshot

Not shabby for a £600 laptop, is it? I’ll do some more tweaking tomorrow whilst I have some free time. Other games I’ve tried so far include Cities in Motion, and Roller Coaster Tycoon (but that last one doesn’t really count!)