Aftershokz Trekz Titanium

After running almost exclusively not listening to music for most of my times out I decided to really punish my Google Music subscription and unlimited data plan and get some additional BPM encouragement. After a week or so the wires in my headphones drove me crazy snagging on jackets and getting pulled out so I looked for a bluetooth alternative.

As you’ll know there are thousands to go at from £5 to well over £150 – I needed something special to justify  purchase like that – then  I found it, bone conducting headphones! These sit over your ear like any other ‘sports’ headphones but instead of going in or on your ear they sit on your cheek bones, and conduct the audio through your bones as if by magic – giving the advantage of leaving your ears clear to hear the thing that is about o run you over.

For £110 the comfort level is great and they look great, the sound is good  but could be better given the price point but I suspect this is something to do with the technology. All in all I love them.

Freaky bone conduction headphones, love them #aftershokz

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EDIT: Now for the unfortunate bit, they’ve gone back to Amazon within three weeks after developing a rattle in the right ear. Its really strange hearing the music come through the bone conduction only to hear what sounds like a screw rattling around inside your actual ear. Amazon as always processed a refund (given they have a two year warranty as well) so I’ll probably order some more.

Saucony Freedom ISO

In line with the fitness kick my old Asics had started to show some significant wear and in fact had a hole worn through in the heel fabric. They had done over 500km according to Strava so were due for retirement.

Given the amount of time I was spending in my trainers and my increasingly old and sore feet I decided to go for an upgrade to these simply stunning Saucony Freedom ISOs in black

How nice! Attempting to buy my way to being a running ninja!

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They are completely blacked out and look amazing but more importantly they feel like running on clouds. I did a quick 4km in them last night just to see and the difference was incredible. Alright they are a bit pricey but if they hold together they should be well worth the cost. Word of warning though I had to go 0.5 size up from my other Saucony shoes, they fit a bit tight.

Truly have been transformed into a running Ninja

Two Stage or 2 Step Verification

So I have just spent about the last two hours going through all my accounts such a Google, WordPress, LastPass, Dropbox, Evernote,  Facebook, Twitter – everything applying two Stage or 2 Step Verification where ever possible using Google Authenticator, which for what it does seems excellent especially using QR codes to avoid loads of fiddly numbers! Not that I had any national secrets or anything stored in any of the accounts but I’d be a bit gutted if I lost all my photos or access to services I now rely on pretty heavily. Setting up has been pretty straight forwards, I’d held off setting it up as I use an app called GSyncIt to sync Outlook data between two PCs via Google and I was cautious about it breaking – 20 seconds later and with an App specific password it was back up and syncing away again.

The only trouble I’ve had so far is with my phone, as soon as I applied  2 Step it signed me out of my phone, now when I needed to sign in again I needed to get my phone, get the access code from Authenticator and sprint to login and enter a 12 digit password and the numerical code before the code expired, it took me six attempts before I made it and am hoping I don’t have to do it again for some time!

Some things I’ve learnt:

  • Print out the backup codes
  • Don’t wipe your phone as Authenticator wont use the same data again? Not too sure about this
  • Always have your phone handy – or the print out of codes

It’s not  as painless as it seems it could be but then I am in the first hour or two, I suspect I have some angst ahead as various Apps or Tablets slowly stop working till I figure out what’s wrong with them!

Cocoon GRID-IT Review

Having a few too many gadgets and having to shift them between work and weekend bags was a bit of an issue. I have a little padded bag that I keep things in, typically:

  • Emergency Battery Charger + tips
  • 3G Dongles
  • Leatherman
  • 4 x USB Cables (Mini, Micro, iPod, and a flexible one
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Pens
  • Emergency software disc
  • Memory Card Adaptors
  • Headphones
  • etc

I thought there must be a better thing than a gadget bag so I looked and found the Cocoon Grid-IT , looked perfect. I decided the 12″ x 8″ would fit everything on and it has a handy little zip pocket on the back for CDs, etc. I couldn’t find anywhere in the UK stocking them so got one in the end off eBay.com – I think i the end it cost about £18 delivered.

First impressions were good, everything fitted nicely and it looked brilliant. The elastic straps have a rubber backing so everything gripped nicely. It was only after a couple of days use I started to notice cables missing, etc. The problem was that with the larger items such as the MiFi and the emergency battery it lifted the strap and took the tension out for the rest of the strap meaning smaller items were lose – I suppose this is common sense!

After a week of moving it almost everything had dropped off, so reluctantly it went on eBay and sold for more than I paid for it, so it was a useful experiment.

If anyone knows of the perfect Gadget Bag please let me know, I’ve gone back to my trusty Proporta Gadget bag at the moment

 

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Netgear DGN1000 Review

After my recent problems with Picasa I decided it was time to replace my ageing Linksys router with something a bit more up to date, modern looking and hopefully would solve some problems with my XBox Live and uploads to Picasa. I’d always installed Netgear kit and other peoples houses so I thought I’d go to the latest version for myself this time – the nice and shiny black DGN1000. Tracking it down was easy, in the end Amazon came up with the best price of £34 which was a bout £7 cheaper than everywhere else but to my horror it received totally appalling reviews pretty much everywhere!

Anyway its specs where exactly what I needed so I decided to give it a whirl, this is what Netgear  have to say about it:

The NETGEAR N150 Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router is a simple and secure way to share your high-speed Internet connection at Wireless-N speeds for surfing the Internet, email, online chat and Facebook. Complete with a built-in DSL modem, it is compatible with all major DSL Internet service providers and Wireless-G networks, allowing hassle-free connection flexibility.

  • Built-in DSL modem — ADSL2+ modem and router combined create complete gateway for DSL Internet connection
  • Surf, email, chat — Wireless-N connection for basic Internet applications like surfing the Web, email and Facebook
  • Share Internet connection — Allows Internet broadband sharing and the freedom of wireless Internet usage
  • Easy setup — Smart Wizard® CD with graphical installation guide and multi-language support
  • Live Parental Controls — Keeps your Internet experience safe
    • Blocks unsafe Internet content and applications and can be managed from anywhere
    • Protects connected devices through the router such as PCs, gaming consoles, and iPod touch®
    • To learn more visit www.netgear.com/lpc
  • Secured connection — Push ‘N’ Connect offers a secured wireless Internet connection at the push of a button
  • Compatibility – Compatible with all major DSL Internet service providers (ISPs)
  • NETGEAR Green features — Power and Wi-Fi on/off buttons, Energy Star-compliant power adapter and 80% recycled packaging

 

I have to says its pretty good, I haven’t written a review on Amazon about it because I’ve only had it two weeks but I set it up in all of 2 minutes and its stable as can be, hasn’t had to be rebooted once and on Wireless N is lightening fast. The only issue I have with it is from my Media Centre running Vista refusing to get an internet connection, it connects using WPA2 well and gets an IP address but for some reason will not allow an internet connection, switching back to WEP all is well and everything in the house connects perfectly. To be honest I haven’t investigated this too much and is probably an easy fix.

I’d buy it again I think for the price, probably not if it was £45 or more.

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HannsG HH251DPB 24.6 inch LCD TFT Monitor Review

When my brilliant 22″ Samsung monitor suddenly lost half its brightness on one side of the screen it was time to replace it. I used it for a day and it was obvious then we weren’t going to get along for much longer. Looking around at the various monitors now available I decided to go as big as possible without breaking the bank. The best option seemed to be the HannsG HH251DPB which had a very respectable 24.6″ screen size. I use this as a dual monitor with my laptop so as the main display that was going to be a nice step up. Ebuyer and Amazon had it at the same price (about £130) but worryingly the Amazon customers hated it and the Ebuyer ones loved it. I took the plunge anyway and have to say visually its excellent. The built in speakers though as you might expect are absolutely shocking and produce a horribly tinny distorted noise at almost any volume.

Technical Details:

Product Description: Hannspree HH251DPB – LCD display – TFT – 24.6″
Device Type: LCD display / TFT active matrix
Colour: Glossy black
Dimensions (WxDxH): 58.2 cm x 17.9 cm x 42.2 cm
Weight: 5.7 kg
Diagonal Size: 24.6″ – widescreen
Dot Pitch / Pixel Pitch: 0.283 mm
Max Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Colour Support: 16.7 million colours
Image Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Response Time: 2 ms
Image Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Image Contrast Ratio: 800:1 / 15000:1 (dynamic)
Audio Output: Speaker(s) – stereo – integrated
Signal Input: DVI-D, VGA
Compliant Standards: CE, MPR II, GOST, CB
Power: AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Power Consumption Operational: 50 Watt

Its a bit of a dust and fingerprint magnet with its glossy black surround but that’s pretty slim so its not too bad. 3 months on and its had no problems at all, no dead pixels and gives a nice overall colour for everyday office use.

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SafeWallet for Android with Dropbox Sync

After using the excellent SPB Wallet for many years under Windows Mobile I was desperate for them to release a version for Android, something they promised to do but after 18 months never had. So the hunt started for a replacement and pretty soon it was obvious it was going to be Keepass or SBSH Safewallet.

I soon came to the conclusion that SafeWallet seemed the more professional option and with its relatively cheap purchase price for both the Android and Desktop versions I purchased. Importing all my wallets from SPB went like a charm and literally within two minutes had it all set up – with the killer feature of wireless Dropbox syncing. They explain it better than me so here’s what they say:

 

Manage all your private information in one easy-to-use and secure solution. Using the most powerful AES 256bit encryption for the security of your private information. Store credit cards information, online passwords, bank account info and much more. SafeWallet is also available for Windows and Mac PCs, allowing you to keep your passwords securely synchronized via Dropbox or local syncing!

Sync with your PC and other phones

Use SafeWallet both on your PC and phone. Seamless syncing helps you access all of your passwords and sensitive information from your PC and phone wherever you go – securely! SafeWallet is available for Windows, Mac, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch, Symbian S60 and Android. More mobile clients arriving soon!

Sync your wallets through the cloud using Dropbox and access your wallets from any PC or mobile anywhere! Sync with as many PCs/mobile phones as you like! Your information is always encrypted and 100% secure! Unlike other services, SafeWallet is the only one to offer 100% free cloud syncing service! Cloud syncing is optional, so you can still sync your wallets using local syncing if you prefer.

The phone you use today might not be the one you will be using tomorrow. As part of the SafeWallet service we are committed to bring SafeWallet to all the latest and newest devices, giving you the freedom to use the device you like knowing your passwords is always available when switching to a new phone or PC! Furthermore, your wallet data will always be compatible with any version of SafeWallet in the future!

 

The last bit is the great bit for me after my SPB Wallet experiences. We invest a lot of time getting these wallets setup correctly with all the information in them, its useless if one day you change to a different platform or already use multiple platforms such as an Android and an iPad.

After two weeks its really working well, the desktop app is great to work with and the sync is seamless using Dropbox. A new addition is a wallet backup from the Desktop which again is pretty cool. The only thing that SPB wins on is the display with your customised cards actually overlaid on an image of that card, which was a very cool feature but not a deal breaker!

 

Images from SBSH website:

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Turtle Beach Wireless Headset Ear Force X41 For Xbox 360

As I mentioned previously I bought an XBox wireless headset that was perfectly good for in game chats. The trouble I was having was that I ONLY play COD Black Ops and I only play at night when the kids have gone to bed. This meant that I had to have the volume on the TV turned down pretty low and I was definately at a disadvantage not hearing people creeping round corners or jumping on crates, etc. I tried some nrmal headphones into the TV but the wires restricted the distance I could get from the TV and you obviously had  no voice chat.

After a surf round I came up with either the Turtle Beach X41 wireless headphones for XBox or the Trittons. Here it came down simply to price as Amazon had a brief sale on the Turtle Beaches and I got them for £100 instead of £130. I didn’t want to go for a cheaper wired or analogue version because of the hassle with cable tidyness and having to piggyback the cables, I was after an option that allowed me just to use the HDMI connection from my XBox to TV and another single digital out from the XBox to something.

 

Setup on the Turtle Beaches is exactly this, you simply use a digital cable (supplied) from the back of the XBox into the Turtle Beach box and its all done.

The sound is amazing from these I have to say, turned up or low down voice chat is great and the detail in the sound is amazing. From just using the TV I had no idea that generators hummed or the flies made noises but they all do and it adds a massive amount to the atmosphere of the game.

This is what Turtle Beach have to say about them:

The Ear Force® X41 is our top-of-the-line XBOX 360® headset featuring 7.1 channel Dolby® surround sound, XBOX LIVE® chat and a digital RF wireless connection for crystal-clear game audio. Combining outstanding comfort with a stunning 360 degree sound field and enhanced online communication, the X41 puts you in the middle of the action so you’ll enjoy a gaming experience that’s second to none.
Playing your favorite XBOX® game with the Ear Force X41 is like having a “secret weapon” in your arsenal. You’ll get a competitive advantage by hearing sound cues that you can’t hear with speakers, such as the soft footsteps of an enemy sneaking up behind you, or the click of a loading weapon far in front of you. By hearing sounds others can’t—and by knowing where they’re coming from—you’ll react faster and take them out before they take you out.
If you’re serious about XBOX 360 gaming, get serious about the sound. Invest in an Ear Force X41 and experience the game the way it was meant to be heard. It will help you to become a better player and you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying your XBOX 360.
I think they are about to be replaced with a new model that gets over the only thing I don’t like – the colour – I wish they were black!

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