Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Invert a GPS GPX format track file

July 12th, 2010 No comments

I ran into the issue of inverting a track in garmin’s roadtrip application for osx. It Can’t. It can invert routes, but not tracks. I created a little online tool to invert tracks. Just export a track by using the folder export tool (only one track should be in the folder). You can find it at the GPX gps tools – GPX track inverter page.

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Polar CS200 review

February 14th, 2010 No comments

I recently bought a Cube Sting HPC X0 mountain bike outfitted with a Polar CS200 bike computer. I also bought every available sensor for the computer. So it is capable of showing heart rate, cadence and speed.

Feature wise this bike computer is excellent. It has a patented feature called ownzone, which is pretty cool. This feature guides you through your warm up and determines what the best range of heart rates is to train in. This can change from training to training because of psychological or physical changes in your body. Like not being fully recovered from a previous training, or when you are in the process of catching a cold, or when you’re stressed out.

Every training session is recored when you press start. The recorded data can be transferred to a website owned by polar. You can view your training history on calendars, in graphs and in tables on that website.
Transferring files to the polar website to record a personal dairy requires a microphone and a windows computer. There currently is no plugin for OSX to transfer exercise files from the CS200 to A bit of a disappointment.

My first impressions where pretty bad. I had a few problems with speed dropping out whenever I went above about 30km/h. I moved the speed sensor up the fork to decrease the distance between the computer unit and the speed sensor. This helped, but while in the recommended heart rate range. If the beep signal is enabled and it begins to beep when I’m over the recommended heart range zone while I’m above 30km/h it will still fail to record the speed properly while it is beeping. The solution is to disable the beep and watch your heart rate from time to time. Not the ideal solution, it should work fine with the beep enabled. I can still move the sensor up about 2-3cm, but it’ll be at the rim of my wheel. So I’ll try that and see if that helps.

Overall, I think it’s very useful to exercise with a heart rate monitor. I don’t have a “start too fast” problem any longer. I can maintain a certain heart rate and just keep going for a few hours. The Polar CS200 is a pretty good unit, as long as it works like it should. So a tip while mounting, mount it as high up the fork as you can.

Garmin Edge 605 GPS enabled bike computer (review)

July 3rd, 2009 No comments
Garmin edge 605 GPS enabled bike computer on my mountainbike

Garmin edge 605 GPS enabled bike computer mounted on my mountainbike

I usually cycle routes that are familiar to me because I know the way, so I can ride without stopping. But I wanted something more than that. I wanted a simple but useful device to go on unfamiliar bike rides with, without getting lost or stopping to look at a map.

Some things I decided I would need where:

  • Size, as small as possible.
  • Weight, as light as possible.
  • Long battery life.
  • Display should be easy to read in bright daylight and at night.
  • Water proof for obvious reasons.
  • Easy to use.

So I choose and bought a Garmin 605 GPS enabled bike computer a few weeks back. This unit has all the traits in the list above. It comes with two mounts. One for horizontal and one for vertical bar mounting. Those are attached with supplied tie-wraps. The mount is very stable and I’m not worried about losing the device. Even if it is a rough road (or no road at all).
I’ve used it to ride some routes and it works pretty well. It’s hard to operate the device when the road is rough, but that is expected. I’ve used it in the rain once now and have not had any problems. It’s water resistance rating is IPX7, which means it should survive temporary immersion in up to 1 meter of water for an hour. So I’m not worried about rain. The display readability is excellent. You don’t need the back light at all during the day and this improves the battery life considerably. At night the display lights up if you touch a button, or when it gives a new direction for you to take. You can set both the brightness and how long it should stay lit. You can also enable beeping sounds when the device wants you to change direction. Battery life is pretty good. The specification mentions battery life of up to 16 hours. I don’t know if this is true but I’ve never been without power up till now.

I’ve found a very useful website where you can find routes by category (car+motorcycle/cycling/hiking) and place by looking at a map. You can also create an account and create your own routes to share with others. The website and first route I have made can be found here:

I’ve even tested it with large routes and tracks with many thousands of points of up to 250km. It loads them very slowly, but it works. I will test this on a motorcycle trip later on. I hope the device will be usable on the motorcycle as well. I’ll update this post after the trip and let you know if it worked good enough for motorcycle use.

I think this device was worth my money. I can go out biking without worrying about getting lost. Also, planning routes before you go riding is fun, and you can create a route that seems most interesting to you.

A personal look at the Apple ipod classic 120gb (review)

November 25th, 2008 No comments

I bought my new mp3 player just a few days ago. A brand new shiny (well until it was out of the box) Apple ipod classic 120gb (6th generation). I decided to purchase this music player because it is the only one that has a reasonable price, and it has a lot of capacity too. Where did all the other high capacity music players go? They all just got smaller it seems.

I want to use it to ferry my raw images from my DSLR between my PC at home, and the macs at college. So it had to be spacious. I’m not that much of an apple fan. I don’t think they really target power users, but keep everything as simple (yet sometimes very illogical) as possible. While this has it’s charms, it can be a pain when you just want that little bit extra. Nonetheless, I bought an ipod because I figured it also wouldn’t need any drivers on a mac or windows vista for the mass storage part. So it would fit my needs nicely.

My first impression was very good. It looks ok. It’s just the right size. Not too small and not too big. Flat enough to easily fit into a pocket. It’s not very light either, and that is a good thing. The construction of the ipod is very good. The housing is sturdy. It is very well built and it shows it. I wonder how those apple technicians open those ipods to swap out a battery, I can’t seem to find any screws or other means of opening it up.
I already dropped it once while it was playing music, from about 1,5 meters, not very high. But it is still working fine. I once crashed my zen touch of a stair while it was playing music. It landed on stone tiles. I raced down the stairs after it to see if it was fine. And it was. The aluminum back was dented pretty good, but the hard drive was fine. Those small hard drives can take pretty large G forces it seems. I can only hope the ipod classic will also withstand this kind of punishment. I don’t want to find out. But I think I’ll find out sooner or later anyway.

Cover flow is a nice feature, but doesn’t really help you navigate through your music if you’re looking for something. It’s actually pretty useless compared to the artist/album navigation screens. I really love that it displays all the cover art while playing songs or navigating lists though. I also noticed how quick the ipod is with responding to requests and loading the cover art.  While it wasn’t hard to be faster than my old creative zen touch, it’s still good.

The ipod has a few downsides as well. I’ve listed them below.

  • Itunes and the ipod crash consistently when I plug in my ipod and it is playing a song, or is paused (software version 2.0.1). Luckily apple doesn’t include a stop button on it’s products. I have to reset the ipod with hold on/off, menu+selector before it is usable again. I’ve filed an ipod issue through their feedback form. I hope they will listen and fix this.
  • Itunes doesn’t feature a library synchronizing feature. You know, one that syncs the library with file changes done outside of itunes. You have to use third party software for the synchronization of your file system and itunes (thanks iTLU, at least itunes is somewhat usable now!).
  • Where did the Californian design go?

    Where did the Californian design go?

    The back of the ipod has a too shiny and polished finish. I scratched it the first time I put it on a table. Also grease from your hands stick on the finish, and the designed in California (assembled in china) just looks like it has been assembled in a deep fryer instead. Some people use those ipod “socks” and other protective sleeves. But my opinion is that it’s just a device to be used, not admired and taken care of like an egg (other people will certainly disagree with me on this point). The front finish (aluminum) is fine though. I think they should have used that on the back part as well.

  • The click wheel does not work with gloves on. Nice in the winter, freeze your hands off when you want to adjust the volume or want to listen to something different.
  • Itunes doesn’t use replay gain, but has it’s own format and tags for loudness normalisation.
  • Itunes has its own ID3 tags to store certain parameters. So I had to do a lot of re tagging.
I still have to buy a dock for it, I’m sure it will be very useful. But I’m a bit disappointed that you can’t select a cable with it. I don’t want to disassemble the dock every time I want to take my ipod to college to transfer pictures. You’ll have to buy it separately for 15 euros, thats almost half the price of the dock and remote. A bit much for a little cable. I bet the cable is also designed in California.
I’m very happy with my new ipod, but I do think apple dropped the ball on a few features that foobar2000 for instance, does have. They are also a bit cocky by wanting users to use just one (their) application instead of multiple (the synchronising issue and mandatory use of itunes). But I think that is the apple and power users thing again. Or they might be trying to sell more than one device.
Maybe I’ll consider buying a macbook somewhere in the future, if they are just as sturdy as the ipod. Maybe they are, with the new one’s cover made out of one piece of aluminum. I just hate it when plastic creaks with protest when I pick up a laptop. I will certainly have to get used to it after working on PCs with windows and linux on them for many years. But working on them at college certainly helps. The educational discounts are also very attractive.