Amazfit Bip – Two Weeks Later

About two weeks ago I posted about a Chinese Wearable, I’m thoroughly anti buying products that are not directly sold through US retailers, however I figured for the price, and the overall high customer satisfaction score that it had off of Amazon (which I guess technically classifies as a US retailer), I’d give it a shot. This is the second time I’ve done this with products there over the last year or so – the first being a pair of Bluetooth Headphones branded “Popchose,” I’d never heard of them, and honestly still have no clue who they are, however they are to date the best Bluetooth Headphones that I’ve owned to date, miles ahead of the LG Tone set, and about on par to the Plantronics, however the battery is much better… but I digress. This was the catalyst for me deciding that maybe these were okay, and that I should give them a shot. Besides, it has a decent return/exchange policy, and again, the reviews for both customer service and the product itself were very positive, so why not? I was in the market for a new smartwatch, my previous “Pebble” smartwatch (RIP Pebble) was some odd company I had never heard of, and they blew up, so I wound up ordering it.

This product arrived on a Tuesday, and it was Saturday morning before I ever put it on the charger because I wanted to test the battery life a little bit. It was at 81% when I removed it from the box, and after it performed all of the “day one” updates. I installed a custom watch face that has seconds ticking, so that tends to drain the always on display a bit more than the traditional minutes only display. In addition, it continually updates my steps/calories burned every minute, and measures my heart rate every 10 minutes, and I also configured it to maintain a GPS connection as well. Basically, I wanted to set this up to have as much wear and tear on the battery as possible to deem exactly how long I could get it to last without a charge. I took it off when I went to bed that night, leaving it off of the charger, and it remained at 81% when I checked the next morning. I work in an environment where I am constantly moving, and always on my feet (sure, there are some exceptions to this, but for the most part I’m always moving), which means that it will constantly be documenting my motion, and steps. For the first day, it was a really busy day, therefore I was moving an above average amount, it kept right up – to kind of calibrate for my own piece of mind, and understanding before I left for the day – I picked a fixed point, and walked to that place. It was 96 steps by my count, I started at the top of a minute, it took me under a minute to get to my stopping point, so when I stopped, I lifted up the watch, waited for the minute to be up and for it to update my steps, and when it did, there were 96 steps added to my count for the day. I was impressed, I mean I shouldn’t have been, it’s just the device doing it’s job, but the odd company I had never heard of was more accurately counting my movement than my Samsung Gear Fit, or Apple Watch Series 1 ever did.

There are quite a few basic functions built into it as well such as workout tracking, which I found to be simply okay. If you’re running on a treadmill, it does a pretty good job at tracking your heart rate, and calories burned, however you have to use it for a little bit for it to calibrate to you. There is a bit of learning required by the device. For example, when you finish your workout recording, say you’re getting off the treadmill and hitting end, it will give you a summary of what it’s recorded. When you hit next, it will allow you to calibrate the distance ran. My workout only recorded .85 miles on the treadmill, when in fact I went 1.01 miles. It was more accurate the second time that I used it, but still not quite synced with the treadmill from that perspective. Moving on to weight equipment, usually on other devices I can simply select an “other workout” option, where it’ll time me, record heart rate, gauge physical stress from that, and really I use it more just to track time doing specific workouts – this however does not have that option, which I see as a missed opportunity for more people in the fitness community. With that being said, I primarily will run, and bike, and this device has both of those in there, so I’m pretty well set for that.

The sleep tracking is an interesting feature, both my prior Apple Watch, and Samsung Gear Fit had these features, however the battery life was not nearly long enough to actually use there, and this is something that this does a great job at tracking. I’m thoroughly impressed at its ability to pinpoint exactly when I fall asleep, and when I get up, for the latter end it’s usually within about 3-5 minutes of when I actually get up, and as far as I can guess it’s quite accurate as to the time I fall asleep to, I’m not staring at a clock when I’m crashing at night. It shows you how you compare to other users, as it anonymizes your data, and compares to other users. According to the app, I usually go to sleep about 2 hours earlier than the average user, however I’m up earlier than most… and I also sleep better than more than 75% of users! There is something mildly creepy about sharing all of this data, but at the same time, it is nice to be able to see these metrics on my own screens, to change my habits if I’m not sleeping well, and see some data driven results as to how my changes are actually effecting my sleep from a more clinical perspective, and less of a “sure, that helped a little” perspective.

All in all, I think that this device is great for someone that wants a basic activity tracker with a few more advanced features, and does not want to pay an arm and a leg for one of the more main stream devices – Xiaomi is a large company overseas, and this is not meant to detract from that, however in the US they’re a no name, and I likely wouldn’t be prone to buying one of their devices normally… besides, we know about all of the conspiracy theories with Huawei and data collection, is Xiaomi another one that may be collecting data too, and we just don’t know it yet? Probably not, but a lot of people will err on the side of caution. With all of that being said, I do recommend this for someone as their first smartwatch, if you’re not sure you’re going to use the features, or remember to charge it, or what have you. If you have one presently, and are looking for an upgrade, I would say that depends on what you have now, and what you’re looking for. There is an actual watch UI, which is more than the Fitbit Charge or Alta has, but the workout tracking features just aren’t as advanced, so if you want more of a watch, and less of a tracker, this is for you. I would say that this is just a stepping stone to something like a Samsung Gear or Apple Watch if you’re looking for a device that does more, and that if you’re looking to really step into the world of wearables, look into those before you look too much further into these, because you’re going to be disappointed if you think you’re getting something like those, and get one of these.

Adobe Creative Cloud – Perks to Cloud Computing

What? You thought this was all about radio? Pfft… there’s more to talk about than that! Come on! Give me a break!

Ever since high school I have been a Photoshop junkie. During a photography class I learned some of the fundamentals, and worked on my own to learn the ins and outs more as time went on. I would spend every spare minute that I had in one of the photo labs or art rooms. Being a student, I had access to the software at a discounted rate, therefore I of course had a copy of that, and as time went on, I got into InDesign for working with layouts, and then Premiere Elements for some video editing – which never went far… couldn’t get past the sound of my voice.

The modern version of these programs is quite different from the days of merely purchasing a copy of the software, and getting keys for your PC’s you plan on running it on. It’s a nice, cheaper (upfront at least) solution to allow anyone to have this software package, as well as being the new trend with software to go “cloud based.” The “Creative Cloud,” is a subscription based service that is based upon what types of tasks you would like to do, there is one for Photo, and a separate one for Video. At the price of $10.99 a month, it’s pretty affordable. The basic functions of Photoshop haven’t really changed any in the last 8 years or so, all your tools and basic editing functions remain the same. What you’re looking at, and what does make this worth considering, is focused suites of software, instead of individual programs that involve you doling out hundreds of dollars a piece, when for $10.99 a month (year commitment – be sure to at least skim the terms and conditions to catch that one) you can have multiple programs. On top of that, you always have the most up to date version, as opposed to having to spend $600 every three years for a new program, at which point you may be a few versions behind, you’re spending between $300-$400 in that same amount of time, and you always are going to have the most recent. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Yes, you still have the full version of the software. In fact the software is still run locally even, you have to take the time to download and install it, just like you would anything else, and that definitely takes some time.

Sure, not all of us like the monthly cost, though that’s the way of the modern world it seems, we aren’t asking about total cost of something, we’re simply asking how much per month it is going to cost, and if there is a way to finance it. With that being said though, looking at this from a cost perspective, it definitely pays to go monthly. Having the most up to date versions, any security patches if you’re using the Adobe Cloud Storage platform, and most importantly, if your computer completely dies on you, all you do is login to your Adobe CC account, and re-download it. No monkeying around with finding license keys you lost a year ago, contacting them, verifying the purchase was valid, and MAYBE getting a copy on your new device. As someone who always wants to have the software disc on hand, this here is a cloud software package that I’ll cave for.