Sunday, April 13, 2014

My thoughts on Disney World's new Magic Bands

Disney World announced their new ticketing system last year, and part of that new system included Magic Bands, which are bracelets that park guests wear instead of carrying a paper ticket. The bands didn't become widely available until last month, with only guests staying at certain Disney hotels getting them until now.

Last month, annual passholders finally got a chance to order the bands, and just last week, they were made available to general day guests. Hotel guests and annual passholders get the bands for free, general admission day guests have to pay $13 extra.

As annual passholders, we got our bands a few weeks ago and have used them several times now around the parks. Here are my thoughts.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My thoughts on fitness trackers and why I'm selling my Fitbit

For Christmas this year, I got my wife a Fitbit Flex activity tracker. If you're not familiar with it, the Fitbit is a personal fitness tracking device that you wear on your wrist. It uses its several sensors to track things like steps walked, distance walked, calories burned, active minutes, and sleep cycles.

At CES this year, fitness devices were a big deal with everyone from Epson to Sony announcing their own version of personal fitness trackers. They're all a bit different and some do more tracking than others. But they all follow a similar theme: wear this device on your wrist to get information about your body and your activities.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Late-to-the-party Pebble smartwatch review

I've always been fascinated by the concept of smartwatches. The idea of wearing a tiny device on your wrist that is capable of doing more than simply telling the time seems almost like science fiction, but it's hardly a new concept. The infamous calculator watches of the 80s and 90s are the most well known example, but there were others, including Casio's camera watches, one of which I actually owned briefly.

Today, we are in the midst of a new smartwatch craze, which most people agree was started by the Pebble. I've been wanting a Pebble watch since they began their kickstarter campaign nearly 2 years ago. Since then, they have released the watch in new colors, and have started selling it on Amazon and at Best Buy. Other smartwatches have also entered the picture over the past two years, with Samsung's Galaxy Gear being the most high profile. But there are others, including the Qualcomm Toq, the MetaWatch, and the Martian Passport.

In the world of rumors, LG is widely expected to announce their own smartwatch at CES next week, and there continue to be rumors that both Apple and Google are working on their own iWatch and Nexus Watch, respectively.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CryptoLocker, the new PC virus threat

This may seem a little bit of fear mongering, and it totally sounds like those old emails we used to get forwarded from grandparents, but this one is pretty serious and I felt the need to share it.

It's called CryptoLocker and it's essentially a virus that gets on your PC and then demands money to remove it. There's a great article about it on Ars Technica that explains it in more detail and includes screenshots. It was also discussed on the this week's episode of TWiT (jump to about 30 minutes in to hear just that part).
Some important notes:
For now, this only affects Windows. If you're using ChromeOS or a Mac, you're safe. If you're using your phone or tablet, you're safe. Any files you have saved to Google Drive, Dopbox, Gmail, etc. are safe.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Schöfferhofer Grapefruit beer

This past weekend, we visited Epcot for the International Food and Wine Festival. While there, we tried all kinds of different things to eat and drink...none of which I thought to take pictures of. I'm out of practice at food blogging.

My favorite food item was the Kefta Pocket from Morocco (imitation recipe here), and my favorite drink was Schöfferhofer grapefruit beer from Germany.

The beer was an extremely unique flavor of both light-colored beer and grapefruit, while remaining carbonated. It was slightly orange/pink in color, and had a very refreshing taste. I had to try it again.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Samsung Chromebook first impressions

Earlier this week, I finally sold my beloved Cr-48 and replaced it with the Samsung Chromebook. It's hard to believe that I got the Cr-48 nearly 3 years ago. It was Google's very first Chromebook, and the fact that it is still being updated to this day with official Chrome OS updates is pretty awesome.  It's been a fully functional machine ever since, but it was time for an upgrade.

Chrome OS itself has come a ridiculously long way from where it was 3 years ago. It almost doesn't even feel like the same OS, but I'll get to that. For now, a quick look at the hardware differences.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Introducing my kids to maps

photo by Enrique Flouret on Flickr
When I was growing up, my parents kept a paper atlas in the car at all times. It was a think book of maps covering a certain geographic area entirely, listing every street, back road, hospital, park, etc. To find a particular road in this atlas, you looked in the index where all the roads were listed alphabetically. The index would tell you what page the street was on and what grid on the page. It was then up to you to locate the street within the grid and figure out how to get there from wherever you were.

Getting lost was common in the days of paper atlases, and in order to get your bearings, you had to drive until you found a named street, then find it in the index, then follow along the map until you found where that street intersected another street, then figure out how to get from there to a place you were familiar with. Rand McNally still sells atlases like this.