MicroAdventures on the horizon

I’ve recently started to read a new book designed to make an (micro)adventurer out of anyone and I am finding it really inspiring! Lots of ideas to get me of my sofa and into the great outdoors without costing a fortune. If you are looking for some inspiration to add a little adventure into your life it’s a great book to get.

New bike.

The books purchase was inspired by my recent bike purchase, a Hybrid Boardman MX Sport. I’ve no experience of bikes (my last bike was a Raleigh Chopper in the 1970’s), but I chose the type based on the activities I envisioned me taking part in, mainly day trips into the countryside. My routes would mainly consist of cycle paths (some minor roads) and off road trails (Not mountain bike courses), so a Hybrid bike seemed a great option. (Thanks to John P for helping choose a actual bike!)

I’ve added a rear rack top rear bag for essentials on day trips, and a handlebar bag for my Lumix camera when I fancy it. I’ve also got the option of side panniers for any trips longer than a day trip (or a nice big picnic!) as I’m not a fan of cycling with a backpack if possible.

Geek alert!

Also being the gadget head that I am, a Garmin Edge Touring GPS sits on my handlebars also. I did a few trial runs with my iPhone and some bike routing apps but found the battery life far too limiting. Hence the Garmin and its suggested 17 hour battery life which will cover any day trips with ease.

It’s also a cycle computer and recently went on my 1st solo run out on the bike covering 19 miles with considerable ease.

The 1st half of the route was a mixture of cycle paths and trails, the 2nd was mainly a canal towpath. The Hybrid bike was great, having front suspension and slimmer rough tread tyres were more than adequate for the cycle paths and off road. I enjoyed a leisurely couple of hours exploring my local area, something I’ve never done before. Tell me I’d cover over 19 miles on a bike a few months ago I would have smiled politely to you whist thinking you were crazy!

I’m looking forward to some more cycling exploration and a full overnight MicroAdventure soon!

Windows 10 and Surface 3 – Turn to the dark side

With all the buzz of the Windows 10 launch a few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to experience it for myself, rather than throw it on a virtual machine on my Mac I decided that I’d replace my iPad Mini and opt for a Surface 3 for my light commuting and travel needs, the idea of a full OS on tablet was a huge draw. I even got a twitter mention from the official Microsoft account.

Continue reading “Windows 10 and Surface 3 – Turn to the dark side”

Will anyone miss Currys : PCWorld when it’s gone?

I ordered a Logitech Keys to Go keyboard for my iPad that was delivered on Saturday using Amazon Prime. Unfortunately there was a defect with Backspace key that was causing it to stick when pressed, I arranged a return with Amazon but there were none currently in stock, no drama.

On a whim I took a look at the PCWorld website to see if they had them in stock today, my 2 local stores (Farnborough) showed they had them in stock. I headed to the main store and wandered the store and eventually found the Logitech display with 2 x KeysToGo in Red and Teal, but no black. A nice store chap went and checked the stock inventory system to find yes they had 2 black in stock and went off to find them……

20 minutes later the store assistant reports that they can’t find them, he suggested I could try the other Farnborough store as a stock check showed they had 3 in store. Well I was out already, why not.

As I wandered around the other store I eventually found a dummy box for a black Keys to Go, with a note to take the box to an assistant. So after eventually finding one I asked if I could purchase one, a quick check of his stock confirmed that 3 were indeed in store. Off he went (via 2 other customer queries) then passed me to a colleague. I wandered the store for a while, had a play on a Roku 3 box (I asked another store assistant, none in stock) then saw my customer assistant coming my way with 2 boxes, both of which I could tell were not Logitech Keys to Go. Off he went again, randomly opening cupboards under displays looking for the 3 keyboards. Poor chap even helped other customers whilst he looked.

About 15 minutes into my 2nd attempted purchase I asked the chap to stop looking, he said I could order online which I thanked him for and headed to the exit empty handed again.

In total I wasted a good 90 minutes trying to buy a keyboard that was in stock in 2 separate stores. The whole premise of physical stores is the ability to buy your chosen goods that day perhaps at slightly inflated price for the convenience. Never again.

WordPress to SquareSpace and back again!

It’s come to that time of year again where my webhosting needs to renewed. Over the past few years my needs have changed and I have rationionalized many of my blogs and websites to a very small number.

Due to this I decided to take a change of direciton and for my 2 main sites, MarcusPlatt.co.uk and Productive Wizard.com and decided to host them with SquareSpace to give me a break from Self hosting.

Self-Hosting can be time consuming.

Self hosted WordPress has always been a very good servent for my bloging needs over the years, however I was starting to worry about the security of my sites, I was happy to update the Themes/Plugins and Code whenever necesssary as it was only a few clicks (with fingers crossed the update I was applying wasn’t going to break anything) but I was still worried of any security holes I wasn’t aware of being found. Call me paranoid if you like! So I decided that this time I would look at a managed blogging platform. Some were a little too restrictive and basic others were crazy expensive!

Eventually I decided to give SquareSpace (7) a go. Moving my data across was simple and trouble free and I loved the way I could drag and drop screen elements and with a live preview, however when It came to actually blogging I didn’t enjoy the experience. I found it very long winded and slow to get to a blog entry, the web interface seemed slughish. The only offline app (where I do a majority of my blogging) is a very polished iPad app, handy in some situations but not all of the time, no way to use a 3rd part blogging app like Blogo.

Moving my Disqus commenting system was also causing me some headaches with the mapping and I eventually gave up all together and decided to try some other platform. (SquareSpace gave a prorata refund to both SquareSpace sites without question which was nice!)

I would use SquareSpace again (and have an idea to soon in the future) but not as a blogging platform.

GoDaddy WordPress hosting.

I have now moved my blogs to fairly new GoDaddy Managed WordPress for 12 months. GoDaddy reviews (and branding) are so polarising on the web (mostly all smothered in affiliate links) I could not accuratly form an opinion on the services they offfer, some raved, some screamed ‘avoid’. But I decided to take the plunge and sign up with their promise of

Blazing fast. Incredibly secure. Totally hassle-free.
You create your own WordPress site. We do the work with fully-managed hosting, setup and security.
99.9% uptime guarantee*

 

Sounds exactly like what I was looking for and at a great price…. lets see how much that price grows at renewal! My thoughts so far a very favourable, the transfer of my 2 WordPress blogs was very easy and smooth within an hour both blogs were copied to a temporary domain without any real interaction from me. A quick update to my DNS settings and a day later it’s done with minimal downtime.

The service itself seems faster than my previous host (HostGator), the WordPress dashboard loads a lot faster and some quick tests show the blogs load a lot faster also.

Early days, but I don’t see any downsides yet, a secure, fast WordPress platform I know well that allows me to use all of the apps I already use without some of the headaches of keeping it online.

 

All in on Apple again

I’m all in on Apple tech products once more! The last part of the puzzle arrived this week, an iPhone 6 Plus or as I describe the purchasing theory behind it ‘Would you like to supersize your phone sir?’

So now my personal goto tech is all Apple the only thing left is a Pebble watch. If only Apple would bring out a smartwatch some time soon….

Initial thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s definatly a 2 handed device but that’s fine with me. I’ve been using large Android devices for the past few years, Galaxy Note 2, HTC One, Samsung S3 etc. So it’s not as shocking for me, what I do find shocking is picking up an iPhone 5 or less now… they are tiny!

The iPhone 6 has most of the best bits of the Android devices I’ve owned now wrapped in a nice Apple shell. I can see why it sold 10m on the 1st weekend.

The main thing I like (as well as the large screen) is having a great camera again, it’s been a while since I whipped out my phone to grab some photo’s as I was always a little frustrated with the results and the way the camera works in Android. Initial thoughts are very positive, it seems a huge step up from any camera phone I’ve used.

1411719798_thumb.jpeg

So hopefully I will be capturing a lot more photos than I have been in the past months when I am wandering around.

 

Out with my old Mac’s, in with the new… oh hang on..

I had a great little plan to consolidate and refresh my 2 Mac device setup into one. Goodbye to my ageing 27” iMac, farewell my trusty 13” Macbook Air and hello to a new 13” Macbook Pro Retina.

One device to sit on my desk, small and compact, the same device that can slip into my bag and travel with me, light and powerful as a desktop. One device. Computing nirvana. Well that was the plan….

1st the positives, the 13” Macbook Pro Retina is an amazing laptop. The best screen I’ve seen on a PC, going back to a normal screen is very noticeable, it’s also as fast as most desktops I’ve used and has a great battery life, so far I’ve had 10 hours out of one charge. I can see it lasting a very long time.

The negative? The 13” screen seems mighty small when placed on my desk! I kept finding myself leaning in to read the screen when sat on a laptop stand on my desk, it’s fine when it’s on my lap or even when on a table at Starbucks. I attribute this problem to me and me alone, my ageing eyes are the problem.

I don’t think a 15” Macbook would have improved the issue that much either, I looked at a 2nd monitor around 23″ and quickly realised that the 2 devices would not sit nice together on my small minimalist desk and I’d still have the issue 1 of them being a 13” screen and some docking work around.

The Solution?

My iMac 27” is staying! (Apologies to anyone who was interested in buying it!) Whilst it’s a 2009 version I did spec is very well when originally purchased so it’s no slouch. An older i7 4 core 2.8 Ghz Processor. 8GB of ram and 1TB HDD, adding a 256GB SSD last year made a huge difference. Yes the ATI Radeon HD 4850 Graphics card is the systems main speed bottleneck, however the last time I checked I could play all of the games I own and don’t play, I brought a PS4 to play games on, my Mac’s are productivity tools now.

So I am a little disappointed that I still have 2 Mac devices, 1 of which takes up most of my desk, the screen looks grainy compared to the new Macbook Retina display, but my eyesight and posture is thanking me. It’s great to think that a 5 year old Mac is still offering such a good experience, I’ve now installed OSX 10.10 Yosemite Beta onto it and you’d never guess it’s over years old!

Oh, does anyone want to buy a very lightly used HiRise adjustable Laptop stand from Twelve South? Works really great with a MacBook Pro retina if your eyesight is better than mine!