Category Archives: Reviews

Apple Watch review for cyclists

I’ve had an Apple Watch for a couple months.

The idea was I could throw it on when biking for an easy way to watch my heart rate and possibly use the GPS mapping to not get lost.

Problem 1:  The screen delay

Biking in Japan is a lot like playing the classic game Paperboy,  many ways to die if you aren’t careful.  Looking at your watch has to be done in a quick glance.

The Apple Watch is definitely the wrong device for this due to the lag in the screen turning on.

In the end, I started doing a wildly exaggerated wrist motion, waiting a second or so, then glancing down. The sad part is even then sometimes the watch screen wouldn’t turn on at all.

Problem 2:  The heart monitor

This may be a problem with my wrist in general (no, I don’t have a tattoo) but it really does a poor job of reading my heart rate.  I’d say it can do it about 20% of the time.  It’s not uncommon to get a 170 BPM reading and then show only 90 BPM ten seconds later.  Most of the time the heart rate information is dark red meaning “couldn’t get a reading recently”.  I sweat rather profusely when biking so maybe that’s the problem.

Sometimes I’d get a reading of 0 and wonder if my heart actually stopped.

Problem 3: The battery

When the Apple Watch has trouble reading your heart rate, it turns on additional LEDS on the bottom of the watch to.. I don’t know, look at your blood veins or something.  I suspect this (combined with having work out mode enabled) is how I could go from 100% battery to 0% in under four hours.

If the heart rate monitoring Gods smile upon your wrist, you may not have this issue.

Problem 4:  The software

Strava’s watch integration is fairly useless because after the watch turns off, you have to swipe to get it back.  I couldn’t get it to stay “in focus” on the watch for very long, maybe because Apple doesn’t allow custom watch faces (yet) and it would require that?

Using the heart rate monitor in Strava isn’t supported either, so basically the only thing it’s good for is manually pausing/unpausing the timer.

I couldn’t figure out any way to show Apple Maps and heart rate data at the same time.


Waste of time, get a Garmin. You replace the battery in their heart monitor maybe once a year – plus, you really need a speed sensor for your wheel to get reliable smart pausing anyway.

So my watch is sitting on the charger, unused. Maybe the Apple Watch 2…?

3D movies, kid? Pfft, try 4D! (A review)


So I got a chance to experience “4DX” Spider Man 2 at our local movie theatre.

Despite buying tickets online weeks in advance, I still got a horrible seat. (front, far left)  Sadly, this sort of makes the 3D effect worse and introduces eye strain.

So what does paying extra for the “4DX” experience get you?  What do these fancy electronic chairs do?

Well, they mostly kick your chair throughout the movie, punctuated by an occasionally spitting on you.

Shoot, back in Salem, Oregon, you got this for free.

Every time a “chair effect” kicked in, I was mentally pulled away from the film, it actually detracted from the movie.

I realize theatres need to add value to remain relevant but..  I don’t think this is working.

What I’d like is a seat perfectly in the middle, be able to pause to use the restroom, and eat and drink anything I want.  No commercials or waiting.  So yes, I want my living room.

Book Review: Irrlicht 1.7 Realtime 3D Engine Beginner’s Guide

Hey look a new book on Irrlicht!

What it covers:
  • Detailed information on setting up your dev environment (covers Windows, linux and OSX)
  • Basic overview of the engine accompanied by some simple example code.  I don’t think the longest code example is more than two pages.
  • Using sprite sheets
  • Using CopperTube to export a scene with lighting
  • Using ScapeMaker (I’d never even heard of that tool before)  to generate a terrain and how to render it
  • Quick if a bit shallow tutorials on getting things like particles, mesh loading, etc

Ha, it mentions Ludumdare in passing, one of the examples require a sprite sheet image from “A Practical Survival Guide for Robots” and gives an LD url to get it.

What it doesn’t cover:
  • Any hard/tricky stuff
  • Dynamically doing stuff like shooting bullets and making real-time changes to the scenegraph
  • Advanced collision or advanced anything
  • Bringing it all together in a simple game like pong or something
  • Detailed info and gotchas

So there you have it, it does what it says on the tin: a no-nonsense, well illustrated, beginner’s guide.  Only useful for those absolutely new to Irrlicht – very quickly you’d want to switch to the real tutorials to go deeper.

The thing is, if you really have the required skills to develop a 3d game with Irrlicht, you probably aren’t going to be hung up on issues like understanding model formats or adding library paths to MSVC++.  Now where is the advanced book…

Seth’s rating: [3.5/5] duck heads

Disclosure: Packt Publishing sent me this book for review

Irrlicht 1.7 Realtime 3D Engine Beginner’s Guide
Paperback :
272 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
Release Date :
October 2011
ISBN : 1849513988
Author(s) : Johannes Stein, Aung Sithu Kyaw