The Pebble Watch made famous by the crowd source website kickstarter in 2012 promised big. In the slick hook video that accompanied the kick starter page, it look the bees knees to be honest. It promised seamless integration with Runkeeper, flawless notifications for SMS, iMessages and calls. In reality that’s true 60% of the time minus the flawless part.
Rewind – 2012 I preordered a Pebble after coming across the kick starter site a few days after kicker starter ‘backers’ closed. While not putting any money down I did reserve one. Fast forward early 2013. I am requested for payment details which I supplied. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. 25/7/13 I am noticed the Pebble has shipped via singpost with full tracking. By mid August I start getting worried. Singpost can not trace after dispatch, auspost can it trace as it has not been scanned into Australia. Last Friday it just turned up. Finally it’s here.
I charged my pebble and followed the instructions. Installing the iOS pebble app. Sharing my phone book.
What I did not know was that the pebble maintains a constant connection with my iphone5. Not the low powered connection that pulses data like my fitbit flex. I noticed the battery drain immediately. I estimate 10-30% faster than without the pebble connection.
iOS / pebble interaction is limited without jail breaking – emails, calls, texts. Caller Id for calls has dropped off after day 2.
I set out to find 2 simple downloadable watch faces that would add functionality I would require.
1. Time, date and weather of my local area ( Australia)
2. Dual time zone digital face.
What I did not realize that such a simple task would start a journey equal to a Bilbo Baggins stroll to visit Mordor.
Regarding the weather watch face. Apparent despite Australia being the fastest adopters of new technology per capita, finding weather loading (polling) faces that would detect my location outside of USA was non existent. So far I am up two my 6 app. No luck. All have required the additional app called httpebble which allows Internet access for polling of data.
Regarding the dual timezone. A search of similar scale was needed. While one face that met all my needs , should I leave the watch face to use another feature such as change a song through the watch interface. The watch face loses the timezone offset requiring resetting every time
Overall I disappointed at the lack of functionality for the iOS system along with the sketchy at best alert system for other apps. So poor is the Pebble at reconnecting with apps using push notifications that a procedure has been devised that requires going into the notification centre and reactivating the motivations of every required app. It has been named the ‘finger dance’ by the pebble community.
Another aggravating factor is the disjointed and dispersed collection of apps and watch faces. There is no one stop marketplace.
I hope it gets better. Presently it will not be coming on my month long trip if it does not get better, and fast.
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Is currently berthed in Darwin.
So happy that @ifttt reactivated the twitter triggers now I can simply add this hashtag ( #wp ) and it blogs it for me.
As you have seen from my other posts I have been trying to get my ballooning weight under control recently. My fitbit devices have been really integral as part of my attempt. The Aria and the Flex have been my daily companions. The Aria greets me every morning once I wake up. Visually reminding me to step on and get the result. It displays weight plus body fat as a percentage. I try to do it every day, same time, same place. Lately while the actual kilogram figure is yoyoing, the body fat as a percentage has been shrinking – interesting today is the lowest. This morning displaying 24% tonight in the 23% range. ( see below). Because the aria is connected to my wifi network it automatically uploads the results to my fitbit account which my iPhone app pulls down and displays.
I am by no means athletic.
This all started while trying to pass my fitness test for my work. I have never been a runner. Running usually induced two types of pain – shins hurting almost immediately and my throat acting like I am taking my last breath.
Stopping by my local shoe shop with the gait tracking and balance measuring gadgety in store it was identified that my arches are falling ( don’t quote me, I think that’s right). The sales person kindly offered to sell me $220 worth of the ugliest shoes available. Politely declining, I opted for the ever sexy orthotics. I have to say the change was instant and amazing. Since losing a tiny bit of weight the throat stopped burning weeks ago. But the shins continued. The orthotics had an immediate effect. The first day I kept wanting to stop where I remember my shins hurting onto regular route. Only this time I didn’t hurt.
A week later, I am feeling great. I have an appointment with a podiatrist tomorrow to hopefully measure and custom make orthotics rather than
off the shelf numbers I have now.
Wish me luck
This week had been a big week for me in the fitness / jogging side.
Every night this week I have been out walking and jogging in Darwin – how could you not. The whether has been sublime. I usually run at night. Later the better. Averaging 6-8kms. The nights here don’t drop below 22 degrees C.
My fitbit flex has really changed the way I view activity. It’s right there on my wrist. It’s blinking lights shaming me into activity. The more lights the more active you have been. It has 5 lights that break your goal into 5ths. My daily goal is currently 10,000 steps ( roughly 5kms) so each light is 2000 steps. The nature of my current role at work means that I am largely sedentary (desk bound) during the day – I would be lucky to pass 2000 steps at work. But by bed time I am usually clocking up between 12000 & 16000. My walking partner who can walk to work recently scored 24kms in a single day with only a normal day activity with a night walk.
Weight wise I am still hovering between 76-78kgs. But body fat as a percentage is dropping from 26% to as low as 24% this morning.
How far do you usually run per day?
From Goulburn to Gonski, Or to Hell and Back!
Talk of Gronski and school funding (particularly at election time) fills me, and I guess many other grey hairs, with a strong feeling of déjà vu. Today it is perhaps too easy to overlook the political ferment that accompanied the battle for “State Aid”, too easy because the outcome of that battle provides the context for Gonski, and in fact every subsequent debate over school funding. Even reformers like Gonski tread carefully through the minefield of federal funding for sectarian schools, thus limiting a bridle on the amount of “reform” that can be achieved. The “Goulburn Settlement” that followed the battle for “State Aid” (i.e. that the federal government would directly fund church schools) is still the context for educational reform today, even as every other aspect of Australian society has radically altered.
The issue of federal funding for sectarian schools emerged in a society that was very different from today’s multicultural pluralist society. Traditionally Australia had been a sectarian nation. On one side of this divide were the protestant churches and their congregations organized by the Australian middle class with a strong emphasis on their Scottish and English heritage, serviced educationally by state primary schools and by a handful of full fee paying independent schools, and on the other side of the divide was the Catholic Church (with its mainly working class and Irish congregations) with its fee paying church schools. Only a handful of government high schools existed, and most (like Fort Street or Perth Modern) were academically select. Of course only 5-10% of the population were expected at this time to complete high school.
The political system reflected this divide. At Federation the founding fathers had left education a state responsibility, thus sidestepping the sectarian issue in their drive to federate. In instead they emphasized federal control of defense and immigration, confident that both Catholics and Protestants would support a constitutional system designed to protect a “White Australia”. From then on Protestants dominated the non-labor parties and opposed “State Aid” to religious (mainly Catholic schools) on sectarian grounds. Of course at this time most Catholics voted Labor, but Labor opposed state aid for ideological reasons, and even strong leaders like Chifley shied away from the issue for fear of provoking sectarian conflict within the ranks of the labor movement.
Still “State Aid” simmered along as an issue in the post-war period as the number of Catholic school children grew, thanks to the baby boom and growing Catholic immigration, and as the cost of educating them also grew. However, during the 1950’s the Cold War and the creation of the DLP soon brought the issue to the boil. What triggered it to boil over was the Goulburn School Strike of 1962. This “strike” began when NSW School Inspectors demanded that Our Lady Primary School in Goulburn build a new toilet block, or cease to enroll students, Archbishop O’Brien of Goulburn informed the Education Department that the Archdiocese did not have the funds to build a new toilet block and appealed to the state ALP government for aid. The government said yes and began to change its policy when the federal executive of the ALP stepped in and forced NSW to withdraw its offer. This issue and others were of course famously brought to a head inside (and outside the Kingston Hotel) where the “Faceless Men” stamped their will on the ALP, and gave Prime Minister Menzies (Presbyterian/Scotch College) the ammunition to load his electoral starter’s pistol.
The 1963 Federal Election was fought on the issue of the “Faceless Men”, and Menzies wooed Catholic voters with the promise of “State Aid” for their votes and their DLP preferences. The result was game changing; the new Liberal policy delighted the DLP and encouraged thousands of Catholic voters to change their votes. The Liberals picked up 10 seats. Liberals across the country took note, and over the next five years the State Liberal Parties followed suit, and each in turn triumphed at the polls; Sir David Brand in WA (1965), Sir Robert Askin (NSW) 1965, Steele Hall (SA) 1967, Frank Nicklin (Qld) 1967, and Sir Henry Bolte (Vic) 1967. Even in Tasmania Sir Angus Bethuane was able to topple a long standing ALP government and form that state’s first Liberal administration with the promise of state based “State Aid” legislation. By 1968 for the first time since before the First World War there were no Labor governments anywhere in Australia.
Labor’s new leader Gough Whitlam now had to act, and in a series of battles he took on and defeated those Labor activists who preferred to put ideological purity ahead of electoral reality. At one stage he even resigned as Labor leader and demanded the party back a platform that included state aid for church schools. His victory in 1968-69 over Dr Jim Cairns and his left wing supporters paved the way for the successful federal intervention into the Victorian Labor Party in 1970, the 1972 Federal Election victory and the eventual creation of the Australian Schools Commission in 1973. By this time as the federal money flowed into church schools, as more staff were hired, more toilet blocks, science blocks and school halls were built a new consensus on education funding was entrenched in Australia. This is the consensus that Gonski addresses, and indeed tries to redress, even today.
The battle for “State Aid” addressed some of issues related to school funding within the sectarianized Australian school system of the 1950’s and 60’s, but fifty years on this “Goulburn Settlement” of 1962-72 is creaking at the joints. As the federal government spreads it influence into issues like curriculum development, student enrolments, teaching training and professional development, and Australia begins to move towards a more nationally integrated education system the role of sectarian schools in education is an issue that no party is prepared to re-assess. A new stasis much like the one that existed pre-1962 appears to have taken hold. The mantra of parental choice rules, and it is seemingly a given that the federal government should subsidize parental choice at almost any cost. Gonski is often cited as a major “reform”, but it fails to address this, and it would appear that even if Gonski were adopted it would not challenge the status quo. The challenge then is how to build a fully funded national education system on the basis on a political settlement that favours the maintenance of a semi-independent sectarian education sector.
As the count down begins to the big trip (roughly 30 days) through Burma (Myanmar) and Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Redang Island, I am putting together my packing list.
As you will see most of my packing is actually mostly gadgets & electronics. I LOVE THEM.
Kathmandu 70L convertible ( roller with hidden backpack straps)
Kathmandu 15L Backpack ( day pack) – came with the 70L
I am still tossing up whether to get the Kathmandu 30L ‘Transit’ Day pack and use it as carry on. Additionally it has a secret compartment for my MacBook Air. The lady at Kathmandu kindly talked me out of buying it on the weekend, instead to wait until September when the 40% member discount starts.
2 x neutral coloured ‘zip off’ travel pants for comfort.
3 x T-shirts
3 x singlets
3 x shorts
1 x Swimming Shorts
7 x Underwear
2 x socks
1 x boat shoes ( these are my every day, go anywhere, comfortable traveling shoes)
1 x pair decent going out shoes (never know when a club night calls)
Go Pro Hero 3 Black
Go Pro Hero 3 Silver
MacBook Air 11in Mid 2011 128gb
Phone / Communications
iPhone 5 64gig in Lifeproof Fre Waterproof Case
Delorme InReach enabled GPS tracker and 2 way communicator
This is really just gear nerd porn, I want to be able to update my family and friends (and you through this blog) on our adventures. Also it would allow me to fire off a SMS style message to my parents who are meeting us for part of the trip, if any plans change. I am still working through some bugs on the posting map locations here. At this stage posting by email is my only option – this does not produce a ‘sexy’ post – more a quick and dirty text only post with links to an external map.
Where possibly I will endeavour to get a local sim – hopefully with prepaid data – in Malaysia this is no problem, Burma I think will be a different story.
iPad Mini 64gig in folio case
Goal Zero Guide 7 Solar panel
Goal Zero Guide 10+ AA Battery Pack with 4 x AA batteries x 2
In addition to the the Goal Zero Guide10+ I have a PLOX 6000mAh battery pack
PIXO USB Camera Battery Charger from Goal Zero – can charge the NX1000 battery from Solar, USB port or via a wall socket.
I know it sounds like a lot of power, but the guiding premise of my whole kit is that it can all be charged from the wall or from the Goal Zero Panels on the road. I am never quite sure of power availability, reliability or how safe it is (spikes). The only item I can not charge by solar from the above kit is the MacBook Air. Goal Zero does have products that could do it easily, but my budget and weight allowance doe not stretch that far this time. Their Sherpa 50 would be great with some folding panels, I just can’t convince the other half to allow me to get that one.
Have I forgotten anything? Comments ??
Another great night in Darwin.
The Darwin Festival is in full swing here.
Tonight I got to go along to my first show – Fear of Brown Planet, a funny and surprisingly political show. If you have seen any of their youtube clips – belly laughs, along with the occasional laugh suppressed behind the hand ensued.
My next show I am off to is Trevor Ashley as Dame Shirley Bassey in Diamonds are for Trevor on the 24th Aug. Having seen Trevor in Hair Spray in Sydney as Edna Turnblad- I know this will be a fabilous show.
I am also trying to get some tickets to the renowned cabaret show ‘La Soirée‘ .
Pic below is of me with the boys from Fear of Brown Planet
Another great night in Darwin.
The boys were kind enough to stay behind the show to meet the crowd. Sexy Nazeem denies it but I know a man in eye makeup when I see it.
I am now back capturing some of my more memorable trips around the NT over the past few months. Adelaide River Jumping Crocs would have to be right up there.
Located about an hour from the Darwin CBD right on the Arhem Highway where it meets the Adelaide River.
For 25 bucks for an hour of watching these prehistoric beasts jump their body length out of the water to snatch a pork shop – I could not rate it highly enough.
The eerie sight of the crocodiles (or crocs if you are a true Territorian) suddenly appearing out of nowhere from the just below the surface of the muddy brown river water still freaks me out.
1 month 01 week 05 days 15 hours until Asian holiday #countdown #countdownapp @Countdown7l #countdowns
1 month 01 week 00 days 23 hours until Back to Canberra #countdown #countdownapp @Countdown7l #countdowns
Dinner at the trailer boat club in Darwin never ceases to provide a great sunset
Recently I wanted to try my new Go Pro 3 in the water just in time for a quick trip to some warm water springs near Darwin NT.
Below are some pictures from Berry Springs NT.
I recently heard a BBC Radio 4 program about Life tracking ( they had a fancy title, Quantifying self). While listening I was thinking HOLY CRAP, thats me.. my whole life is recorded – whether pictorially through Facebook or Instagram, textually through here or tumblr and fitness wise I will go into below.
I recently have been trying to shift some KGs after hitting my highest weight without much effort! (mid 80kgs)
As you are probably aware, I am a gadget man, the first item that grabbed my eye was the new Fitbit Flex.
Basically its a Bluetooth Enabled Pedometer which doubles as a sleep tracker.
The wrist based device ‘gameifies’ the process of basically moving your body. In default setting of 10000 steps as a goal per day the device shows one single light per 2000 steps, providing vibration feedback when the 10000 is reached. The crowning glory of the divide in my opinion is back end – the app tracking and recording.
More recently I have added the Aria – the wifi enabled scale that perfectly couples with the Flex and the Fitbit app, not just measuring KGs but also lean body mass.
For the record – am now in the 70kg range.