Current Generation Smart Watches

23:08 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware,Mobile
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I did some brief research this afternoon about the current smart watch space. I was distracted many times by smart watches of years past, but was able to come up with a list of what appear to be the front-runners in the current generation of smart watches.

WIMM One and i’m Watch are both running Android underneath the hood, and both allow you to develop applications that run on the actual units. Metawatch allows you create applications for Android smartphones that use the Metawatch API to interface with their watch. It’s unclear what the case is with Sony’s watch or the inPulse watch.

Bluesky’s watch is the most elegant of the five, but the most expensive. They even have models that cost upwards of $2,000 whose sole purpose is simply fashion. WIMM is a bit bulky, and there is not any customization available yet, but the company has partnered with Foxconn and publishes a Hardware Development Kit that would allow third-parties to create compatible accessories. Also of note, the WIMM one is specifically tailored for Developers right now, not consumers–unlike the i’m watch.



WiMM One Developer Preview

14:10 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware,Mobile

I attended an Android Developer Conference, aptly named AnDevCon, in San Francisco earlier this week. The event had quite a few classes regarding specifics of developing mobile applications, not only on Android but many incorporated elements of developing for Apple iOS as well. Topics ranged from the advanced technical side (Deep Dive in Android Security, Tuning Android Applications) to beginner-level discussions. I have been testing Android applications for some time, but have not actually developed one. I thus had sporadic knowledge of the tools and best-practices and felt this conference was a good reminder of some of the core foundations for development. I think I will still have to pick up something more extensive as there are probably still gaps in my knowledge.

So what’s my motivating factor? It isn’t necessarily to develop an application that I’ll be able to sell on the market and make money from. That’s a nice thing that a lot of developers try to do. The conference was not only about classes on technical topics. Given the nature of the event, many vendors were present showing off their new static analysis solutions and services, or trying to promote their new ingenious ad framework that will shower you with money. Most of what the vendors were displaying was expected content, it was still fairly interesting. Many of the vendors were start-ups trying to get off the ground, intermixed with big names such as Qualcomm, Motorola, and Cisco. One particular company I took fondness of was WIMM Labs and their flagship Android platform.

The platform is a combination of hardware, micro-apps, and web services that tie it all together. As outlined on their website:

The WIMM Platform integrates hardware, app tools and web services into a highly scalable product development model. It can quickly take you from product incubation and testing to full-scale manufacturing and sales. And the product categories it’s perfect for are endless: health, fitness, mobile payments, fashion, enterprise, travel, entertainment, communications and others.

During the conference, they released their development preview device, the WIMM One, a smartwatch running Android 2.1. It boasts a 667MHz processor, 160 x 160 pixel screen that operates in two modes, 2GB of on-board storage, compass, accelerometer, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Not quite the amazing hardware, but it’s a watch. Not much you can ask for unless you want that watch battery to drain in a handful of hours.


WIMM One smartwatch. Picture courtesy of WIMM Labs.

I quickly picked one up, especially since they were offering a special launch promotion that reduced the price. The watch is expected to arrive some time next week. What makes WIMM One notable is that it’s really one of the first Android watches to make it out the door and into the hands of developers. There’s a few competitor products to the WIMM, which I hope to cover in a subsequent post shortly. I’ll do a review of the watch once it arrives, but there’s not much that can be focused on with much scrutiny–it’s a developer preview. The platform is new. I will have to base the analysis on its potential. From what I know now, it’s looking pretty good.



CR-48: The Google Chromebook

23:20 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware

A couple months ago I probably received one of the last CR-48 Chromebooks that Google was distributing to developers for testing their now released Chrome OS platform. I have to say, the hardware is pretty sleek.

CR-48: The Google Chromebook

The entire notebook is matte, with what almost feels like to be simple plastic. It feels cheap, yet nice at the same time. Even though the notebook is almost a matte finish, it certainly does its fair share of collecting fingerprints. I guess you can always expect that with all laptops though.

The laptop itself is rather small; Only slightly bigger than many of the netbooks you see today. The screen is a little on the cheaper side, but it certainly does the job (especially for a free device for that matter). The viewing angle on it is surprisingly limited, but when you’re using it like a notebook and don’t have it propped up anywhere else, it’s perfectly fine.

The keyboard is probably my favorite part of the notebook. The keys are very square and relatively low compared to the bezel. It feels almost as nice as the Macbook Pro keyboard, and pretty much looks just like it, except the letters do not light up.

CR-48 Keyboard

The battery life is fairly excellent, although the device is always either on or in a hibernated state, such that when you open the laptop up, it does its one to two second fast boot and brings you right to the login screen. Due to this, when the laptop is shut, and you decide to not use it for several weeks, it will eventually drain. That’s not really a complaint though because I’d hope you won’t have one and run into this situation. I can imagine this behavior with the battery easily carrying over to all other Chromebooks available now.

The only caveat I’d have to say with these devices is the odd charging problem that they have. When you plug in the power adapter into the unit, you have to plug it in very slowly until you see the orange charging light. Once you do, you can push it in all the way and you’re fine. If you immediately push it in all the way, the device will not charge, but it will be powered. It was quite strange and took me a while to figure out.

All in all, pretty great hardware. Even better since it was free. I certainly prefer this size and design over any other netbook available. Soon I’ll be discussing more about Chrome OS.



Garmin Forerunner 305

22:58 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware

I picked up a Garmin Forerunner 305 a few weeks ago after investigating watches again, and the fact that I recently started going on consistent runs again for the first time in about 10 years. This was due to a bet being lost with my sister, who I told her if she placed first in her age group in an Ironman competition, I would start running. I lost that bet.

Garmin Forerunner 305

The watch thus far has been treating me pretty well. My total workout spans for about 80 minutes including stretching, warm-up, and cool-down. The watch of course lasts the entire time so I don’t have much of an issue with battery life. Plus I always leave it in the dock after the run in order to download the data. I often forget to take it out after pulling the data down. Not really a downside since it’ll simply charge itself during that time. I can imagine it’ll be tricky for someone who is traveling.

The accuracy is fairly decent, although so far I’ve been sticking to a track so there is not a lot of cover blocking the watch from grabbing a GPS signal. I consistently get ~14 feet accuracy pretty much every day. The only other GPS device I had that I had been using to track my pace and distance was my iPhone. I used MapMyRun to get the statistics before I purchased the watch, and used both at the same to see how they’d compare. Oddly since I was on a track, I could’ve calculated the exact distance I actually ran, but I often lost track or never really cared that much to count the laps. The only conclusion I’ve been able to make between the two is that the GPS on the iPhone consistently has longer distances.

The heartbeat monitor, probably the most simplistic feature on the device is my favorite thus far. Granted, this is the first situation where I used a heartbeat monitor at any given time, so I probably simply enjoy having that data. It’s very nice to see my pace on a graph with my heart-rate displayed alongside it.

Forerunner 305 - Post-exercise Statistics

Post-exercise Statistics

The watch has many other features, including a very intricate workout planner (which is really the primary purpose of the device) although I haven’t used it yet. Once I complete my running program (in 9 more weeks!), that’s when I’ll be moving off the track and focusing on improving my running pace.

Suffice to say, the watch is an excellent product and I can’t wait to explore it further.



Converting .d64 images onto floppy disks

21:08 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware,Software

The first thing I did was hook up my XA1541 cable to my Windows XP machine. If you’re looking for instructions on what to do to actually get the images onto floppies, do the following steps prior to hooking up the drive the first time:

  1. You first have to download opencbm. Download and unzip that in a folder.
  2. There’s an executable that installs the drivers to recognize the 1541 drives when they are connected to the PC. Install those.
  3. Unless you like working via the CLI, you’re going to want to download cbmxfer.
  4. Unzip those files into the same directory that contains the opencbm executabkes.
  5. Shut down your computer.
  6. Hook up the 1541 drive using the Xx1541 series cable to the LPT port on the machine of your machine. Turn on the 1541 drive and then turn on your computer.
  7. Once your machine is back up and running, open cbmxfer. Configure it as appropriate.
  8. Click the ‘Status’ button. If you get the drive information in the field in the lower right hand corner, you’re good to go.
  9. This is now the relatively tricky part. The first two and a half hours I used this application, the 5.25″ floppies I used either were not formatted correctly, or my drive(s) simply did not like them. I would get occasionally write errors, and many instances of 74,DRIVE NOT READY,00,00. If you get that, and you know your drive works fine, it’s probably your disks. Before I copy a .d64 over, I always format the disk. If it fails formatting, I don’t use it. Format it, then image it. Works great after that.

    I’ve loaded up GEOS 2.0, and geoLink now. They’re working great with my 64NIC+ !

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