Sunday, May 26, 2013

CaptCase for iPhone

The CaptCase leather iPhone cover was the second campaign that I backed on Kickstarter that was successfully funded, but it is the first to be delivered to me. The packaging it came with was very nice and quite suitable for gift giving. Although I do like my Twelve South BookBook leather iPhone cover, after a year of use some of the stitching is coming apart. The CaptCase is a similar design but slimmer with a cutout for the camera and an outside pocket for a card or two. It is available for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 and cost me less than half the price of the BookBook.

Nitecore EA4W LED Flashlight

I recently purchased a Nitecore EA4W flashlight after educating myself with some of the excellent reviews written by Selfbuilt over on CandlePowerForums. I'm very pleased with this high-powered compact LED flashlight that runs on only 4 AA batteries.

Before I knew anything about the real world of flashlights I purchased a MAGLITE® LED 3-Cell D Flashlight from Walmart. You can see it in the top picture. It's brightness is rated at 131 Lumens. By contrast, the Nitecore EA4 is much more compact and rated at 860 Lumens. The picture on the bottom right shows the Maglite on the left and the Nitecore on the right shining on a fence about 30 ft away. The difference is clear. The Nitecore is noticeably brighter in the grass directly in front as well as on the fence. I bought the "W" version of the Nitecore EA4 that has a warmer LED than the cool white that is also available. The Maglite has a cool white LED. The compact size of the Nitecore EA4 will make it much easier to throw in a bag or keep in the car. It also comes with a belt holster if you prefer carrying that way. I can't wait to try it out at the campground the next time we are RVing. Although, we might have an unfair advantage at the Flashlight Lollipop Hunts!

For a comprehensive review of the Nitecore EA4 complete with lots of comparison pictures, check out Selfbuilt's review here: Nitecore EA4 (XM-L U2, 4xAA) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and more!

TYLT Energi Backpack

This TYLT Energi Backpack with Built-in Battery was my fourth successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, but the second one to ship. The whole project was very professionally run and actually shipped early. The bag is awesome: very high quality with lots of well designed pockets like my SCOTTEVEST products. The built-in battery can charge 3 devices at the same time and has the capacity to charge an iPhone about 6 times.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Comparison: Casio ProTrek, Garmin Fenix, G-Shock Mudman

I recently acquired a Garmin fenix GPS watch (pictured in the center in the above photo). It's a very capable sports watch that has the ability to track and monitor a variety of data as well as help you navigate wherever you want to go in your outdoor adventures. My previous ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) watch was a titanium solar atomic Casio ProTrek, pictured on the left. The third digital sports watch in my collection, pictured on the right is a Casio G-Shock Mudman. 

The Garmin fenix has a built-in rechargeable battery that charges through a specially designed USB docking station. When you plug the docking station into a computer you can access the fenix as USB mass storage and backup or transfer files. Garmin says with the GPS on you should be able to get about 50 hours of use. With the GPS off and used only as a watch, the battery should last around 6 months. Timekeeping with the GPS on is very accurate because it synchronizes with satellites, but with the GPS off, the watch looses almost a second every day. 

The Casio ProTrek is solar powered so you can use any light source to charge it up.  It is also an atomic clock so every night, if you are within range of the various broadcast stations around the world, the time is automatically synchronized. 

The Casio G-Shock Mudman is the oldest of the three I have, probably acquired almost 20 years ago. It is powered by a single standard button battery. In terms of built-in functions and display, it seems pre-historic. 

The pictures below show the side profile of each watch. The titanium ProTrek is the thinnest. Also, because the bracelet and case are both made of titanium, the watch is very light and comfortable. The fenix and the Mudman are almost the same height, almost twice the size of the ProTrek. However, the Garmin fenix is very comfortable to wear despite its size. The resin strap is soft and flexible. By contrast, the resin strap on the Mudman is stiff and hard and it is the least comfortable of the three to wear. Part of that may be due to its age. All my other watches with resin straps that old have crumbled to pieces. It's pretty impressive that the Mudman's original strap has lasted this long. 

Casio ProTrek vs. Garmin fenix

 Garmin fenix vs. Casio G-Shock Mudman

Light My Fire - Titanium Spork

I recently picked up a number of items that I had ordered online including a Titanium Spork from Light My Fire. I used it this morning to eat an omelette and I'm glad to say it worked quite well. I expected the knife/cutting section not to be sharp because it goes into your mouth, but it cut surprisingly well. Our staff room at work is notorious for not having enough proper eating utensils--especially when needed the most--so the Spork will definitely come in handy. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Garmin fenix GPS Watch: Restore Missing Profiles

I recently acquired a Garmin fenix Outdoor GPS Watch through an air miles reward program. This awesome watch uses GPS and a variety of sensors so that you can track, navigate and gather all sorts of trip information whenever you are out and about. You can also upload your tracking data to a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth to view your progress or review your journey. What's even more awesome is having enough loyalty points the get Garmin fenix including shipping and taxes without having to pay anything extra!

The Garmin fēnix comes with a variety of user-programmable Profiles that tailors the data shown on the watch to the particular activity you are doing, such as Hiking, Running, Cycling, and Geocaching. However, I encountered a problem where some of the profiles shown to me in the setup wizard were deleted once I started to use the watch. The ones I was interested in were: Mountain Biking, Hunting, Military, and Off Road--not because I was going to be participating in those activities, but because I wanted to see how the data pages were programmed for each activity. There was also a Skiing profile provided with the latest Garmin software update that was also missing.

Luckily, I fixed my problem, although I don't think it was the most elegant solution. 

Before I did anything I made sure I had the latest updates on the Garmin fēnix (as of 2013 May 12): 

Software Version 3.20 GPS 
Software Version 2.60 

Next, I downloaded the Skiing.gpf file I found on the Garmin forum here: Garmin Fenix 3.12 Beta Software and copied it to Profile folder on the watch.

Then I did a master reset on the Garmin fenix following the instructions here: How do I reset my fenix? It is interesting to note that doing a master reset does NOT delete any profile files, including custom ones that I created myself earlier. 

After going through the setup wizard, I selected the profile that was missing, i.e. "Mountain Biking." Doing that saved that profile onto the watch. The other profiles I wanted were still automatically deleted once I starting using the fenix, so I did another master reset and selected the NEXT profile that was missing. I kept doing resets until all the missing profiles (4) were saved. I then connected the Garmin fenix to my computer and copied the .gpf files onto my hard drive so that I would have a backup. 

Here is the complete list of profiles (13) that I now have from Garmin: 

  1. Hiking
  2. Running 
  3. Cycling 
  4. Geocaching 
  5. Fishing 
  6. Sailing 
  7. Aviation 
  8. Mountaineering 
  9. Mountain Biking
  10. Hunting 
  11. Military 
  12. Off Road
  13. Skiing 

Obviously, I'm not going to be using all of them and will remove the extras. But being a new owner and learning all the functions of the watch, I wanted all the available factory profiles so that I could look at them to compare.

Am I the only one who has had to do this? I'm thinking that there is probably something obvious that I just missed, because I can't believe all users would need to do this to restore the missing profiles.

Despite all of that, I'm really enjoying the Garmin fenix so far and have already been able to download local maps to supplement the base map that comes with the watch. Now that I have all the profiles, I can start customizing!

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