Posts tagged “Review

My move to iPhone XS Max

My default daily driver has been the iPhone 7 Plus for almost 2 years and it’s been an absolute work horse. I use it to produce and publish my podcast, “In the Weeds with Dexter Johnson”, take thousands of photos and be my main email and consumption machine. It’s been great; however, I started to get the itch for something new and iPhone XS Max came for a scratch.


Rundown

What made me switch? I’m the same person that’s been on record saying that notches of any type are terrible and an eye sore. Additionally, I’ve noted that I’ve had concerns about the true screen real estate that one could gain with a notch and rounded corners. What’s most interesting is that a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, not an iPhone, first convinced me that I could live with an impediment on my screen. From simply using the device and seeing that I wasn’t missing much, I felt that the newest iPhone could be a great, if not great, upgrade — notch and all.

While the notch can be an issue for the unoptimized app, apps that take it into account, can have the same amount of polish and beauty of any app that you’re used to using. Additionally since the UI of the iPhone doesn’t put a lot of items on the top of the display, unlike Android with notifications and more, having the cut out isn’t a major issue and while it doesn’t disappear, I can honestly say that it’s very immersive and you don’t notice it often.

Using the device is a breeze. iPhone XS Max is still an iPhone and that’s not a bad thing. It behaves and operates in the same way that iOS has in the past with a few exceptions — most importantly, it is very reliable and responsive. With iPhone X, XS and XR say goodbye to the famed home button and hello to gesture navigation that is simple and intuitive to pick up and start running. At this point, about 24 hours in, I’m multitasking with ease flicking the navigation bar from side to side to switch between apps and I’m using the device like a pro as if I’ve had it since release.


Wrap-up

I’m loving this device, the edge to edge (mostly) glass creates a truly immersive experience which is what we’ve always wanted. So while the notch may not be perfect, it’s good enough for now, good enough for me and also good enough for me to write and construct this entire review on, image and all.

iPhone XS Max is a winner.

Oura Ring Review, Biohacking at it’s finest

An Intro

This is the definitive Oura Ring review.

Starting with what an Oura Ring is. The Oura Ring is an overall health and wellness tracker focusing on sleep, that works remarkably well because it’s something that’s designed to be worn 24/7, and be directly on your person in the form of a ring. This allows for data collection of sleep (it’s primary and most touted function), HRV (heart rate variability) and more to determine your overall “Readiness” score for a given day. The key is to use all of the data points that compose your readiness score to improve it day by day, whether that is going to sleep earlier, not drinking alcohol before bed or trying to lower stress levels — all of which contribute to you being more in control of your day and making your overall life better.

We are all creatures of habit and in the year 2018, we have a habit of creating lots of data, whether it is traces of our location, shared with Google, all over the interwebs, health and fitness or list after list or pin after pin — we create data. Sometimes that data is seamlessly collected, such as fitness data from your favorite smartwatch; yet, at times, it can be difficult, such as logging each meal.

Every piece of data is valuable, especially when it’s aggregated, and presented to the user in a concise manner that is easily interpreted and can be utilized for deep analytics. That is where biohacking comes in. What exactly is this word? Isn’t hacking usually associated with computers? The answer to that question is yes, usually.

Biohacking is “the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to hack your body’s biology and feel your best.” (Source: Dr.Axe)

Oura Ring, version 2.

The Oura Ring is the perfect companion for a biohacker because it focuses on it’s niche and hones in on what it does really well.

  • Sleep tracking
  • Readiness tracking
  • Heart rate variability
  • Activity
  • (anything in between)

The Oura Ring is designed to be worn 24/7 to help provide these statistics, the number that users all know, associate with and love is your daily “Readiness” score, which is a compilation of a number of factors including sleep, heart rate and more from your previous day that is an overall measure of how ready you are for the upcoming day.


Initial Impressions

The experience of Oura begins from the moment that it arrives in a very well designed box. This entire review is based off of the second iteration of the ring, which is more streamlined than that of the first version.

As soon as the box is lifted off, you are greeted by the ring and it’s beautifully crafted inductive charger, which tops the ring off to 100% in about an hour with a battery that lasts for at least a week, easily being that smart device that lasts and lasts. Thank you Oura, thank you.


Day to Day Use

Once the ring is on your finger, it’s off to the races! Before placing your final order with Oura, part of the process is to get a sizing kit, in which the company sends a variety of sizes so that you can practice wearing the ring on any finger you’d like. This is very important because while you may be a certain size in a traditional ring, the Oura contains a set of sensors inside of the band that may throw that size off. In short, get the sizing kit or else you would’ve wished that you had.

The ring is very light and a pleasure to wear, so much so that it’s a bit unnerving of it’s lack of significant weight; however, that helps the device get out of the way so that it can collect valuable data for you. Throughout the day, the Oura app will buzz you in order to promote movement, asking if “it’s time to stretch your legs a bit?” when you’ve been sedentary for too long — which is a jolt that all of us need from time to time. This may be a feature that if you’re an Apple Watch user can become a bit redundant, but I found it welcoming as I’m a firm believer in overall wellness and movement.

The true magic of Oura comes at night, as this is when all of your sleep data is tracked, which is the largest selling point of the ring as a whole and it does not disappoint. As noted earlier, the big daily number is your Readiness score, which is a compilation of a variety of measures that are taken during your sleep time to determine how “ready” you are for the day. All of your statistics are stored inside of the Oura app and once opened, you’re greeted by your readiness score, then once clicked — you’re hit with a multitude of values to help you “hack” your way to better readiness.

Home screen of the Oura app for iOS. (I didn’t get the best night sleep the prior night — which is excellent to see all of the factors, as this is why I purchased the ring to begin with.)

Tapping on your Readiness score will give you a breakdown of all of the factors that contributed to that score:

Readiness score comprise.

Once tapped, each item can be expanded upon giving the user a detailed definition of what is being tracked, along with graphs which go back over the lifetime of the ring, which allow for deep analysis into trends of how your body responds to certain stimuli such as lack of sleep, alcohol before bed, increased heart rate due to a late meal or workout — the range of factors are endless, yet the data speaks for itself and is backed up quite well. Read over this study (Source: NCBI, PubMed which contains biomedical literature), which measured the performance of the Oura ring against polysomnography, which is used for the study of sleep and as a diagnostic tool in sleep medicine (Source: Wikipedia).


King of Sleep

The Oura Ring has made a name for itself because of it’s ability to track sleep like no other wearable on the market and provide deep dives into all of the sleep cycles that our body goes through on a nightly basis.

The Oura Ring notably measures REM, light and deep sleep, providing the amount of time that what spent in each, as well as an intensive breakdown of what percentage of your sleep it should be along with a definition of what defines it. Take a look below at a previous day’s sleep breakdown and an example of REM sleep defined:

Screenshots inside of the Oura App, pertaining to the Sleep section.

This definition and overview is seen after tapping one of the sleep stages from the previous screen above.

Overall, the information on your sleep data that can be garnered by simply swiping and tapping your way through the app is extremely valuable, rich and extensive, truly making this wearable the King of Sleep.


Wrapping Up

After having the Oura Ring for a little bit over 2 weeks, it has changed how I view my sleep (lack thereof) and I am consistently working to make my readiness score better.  Whether that is being mindful of a late drink, workout or cup of coffee — anything and everything can help — isn’t that the purpose of biohacking?  Using the data you have to make your life better going forward.

Starting off at $299, for the amount of data that you get is simply invaluable, so if you’re interested head on over to the Oura site and check out what they have to offer.  (No, I am not sponsored and do not have any codes I can give you to get money off; however, try watching the review view from Alex Furgus, which will give more information on the ring itself and show the discount code ALEXFERGUS)

If you’re even thinking about it, this device is worth every penny.

Windows 8 Full Review

First and foremost, take any negative feelings you may have towards LEARNING, TRYING and EXPERIMENTING and please throw them out of the door.

On Thursday, October 25th 2012 Microsoft released an update to it’s desktop operating system — Windows 8.  Not only can this operating system, from this point further referred to as “OS”, sufficiently run just as Windows 7 did it now offers many new intuitive features that can easily make your productivity skyrocket.  Please note, as with anything you have those naysayers that seem to believe that this single iteration of the OS will be the end of Microsoft.  I can proudly say that they are indeed wrong.  This review will be broken up into sections that will be incredibly easy to parse through.

Installation:

I downloaded by copy of Windows 8 Pro to my desktop machine that was running Windows 7 on Friday.  Getting Windows is probably easier than it has ever been — now you can simply download it or request physical media.  So, before you are allowed to download the OS you must first run a setup tool, which will ensure that all of your applications will work with the Windows 8.  After these preliminary system requirement checks the the download begins, which weighing in at roughly 2 GB downloads pretty quickly in about 20 – 30 minutes.  Now comes the easy part, let your computer do the work.  Many are calling this the easiest Windows install yet; I can do nothing but agree.  After the installation is complete and the OS does it’s initial boot you traverse through the setup screens (signing in, determining your Start Menu preferences etc.) and you are all set to enjoy your new installation.

All in all the process took about 1.5 hours from initial download, payment and first time boot sequence.  After that you’ve never seen boot speeds this fast — but we will save that for later.

Windows 8 Desktop:

Many users, who probably have not even tried Windows 8, argue that Microsoft has neglected power users and are trying to abandon the desktop.  Let me start off by saying:  I am a power user, I sit in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio for 8 hours per day, come home and use my machine to maintain websites, edit video/photo and more – we have not been neglected at all.

Why?

The desktop behaves in the exact same manner as it always has!  The exact same way.  Except now it has been completely overhauled; yet it still resides in the same shell.  The task manager is very intuitive for users that geek out over processes and how much memory is being consumed by a particular program.  It has a simple interface for a user just wanting to kill and application and an advanced look for those, whom like me, like to get a little dirty.

There is tab after tab available that will allow you deep-dive as much or as little as you would like and if you hate all of the details you can switch to the default with “Fewer details” as the lower left button indicates.  In addition, make note of how much memory your PC with Windows 8 consumes because it is touted that it uses much less memory, which I can say is true.  For example, Chrome is designed to run each tab in a separate process, which can be intense for an older machine — however with Windows 8 your memory will not wince   Although, I don’t encounter memory issues since my machine sports 12 GB of RAM.

Task Manager isn’t the only thing that has been improved, File Explorer has gone from simple to a ribbon filled Office-esque beast, which depending on what is selected can handle just about anything you throw at it.

Speaking of improvements there is a slew of Administrative tools that can now be added to the Start Screen, which includes PowerShell, Services and Windows Firewall with Advanced Security just to name a few.  These applications are not what you would normally expect to receive from a Windows installation — these are robust applications that are fully capable of doing their jobs with or without 3rd party support.  Now, we all know that different vendors will create antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware apps that will take these features to the next level; yet, that is their specialty — Microsoft has done right by including applications that can get the job done just as well.

Start Screen and Windows Apps:

The first thing that you are greeted with after you sign into your new Windows 8 machine in the new start screen sporting the Modern UI from Microsoft.  Is it intuitive?  Yes.  Is it easy to use?  Yes.

Although the Start Screen allows for customization so that it may be setup however you’d like the first portion is initially for apps, which can be changed.  Don’t worry your desktop applications are not lost; a simple right-click and “All Apps” will reveal this lovely screen below:

As you can see nothing is lost.  The navigation might have changed but if you spend 30 minutes tinkering around and getting to know the new Windows you will be glad that you did.  Also, an app that gets used rigorously by me and everyone else “Desktop” is always available for you to visit at anytime; however, sometimes you just do not need to enter the desktop realm to do everything and Microsoft understands this — that is why there are apps available that can take care of many tasks for you ie. MetroTwit for Twitter, Quick Note for short blurbs.  In addition, these Windows apps can be pinned to a side of your screen for increased productivity.  See below:

So, this is just my case with one monitor — just imagine you could be coding on one monitor, have your favorite website up in another and have your Twitter feed pinned on that same monitor.  Windows 8 now has excellent built in multi-monitor support that now even extends the Taskbar; yet another improvement on the already present multi-monitor support found in Windows 7.

Let’s talk about apps.

Are the over 700K like Apples App Store?  No.  Are there over 700K like Google Play?  No.  However, answer this question for me with the hundreds of thousands of apps that these behemoths tout — how many do you ACTUALLY  use, everyday….  That number is probably slim.  The Windows Store is growing to say the least; yet, judging just by my Start Screen alone you can see that they already have some pretty key players:  Netflix, HuluPlus and Google Chrome — with more apps coming.  In fact, upon the release of Windows 8 1000 new apps were added.

My Final Thoughts:

Microsoft, Windows 8 is daring, almost scary good and I absolutely love it.  This OS is able to be used across multiple devices: tablets, desktops, phones; even the XBox 360 has adopted the Modern UI.  Traditional Windows (Windows 7) is the core of this operating system, so with this iteration you get everything that you know and love about it with the added benefits of fast boot and shutdowns (20 seconds or less), lower memory consumption and apps that can not only increase your productivity but even remove extra steps.  Want to search for anything on your computer?  Apps, files, Windows Store — it can be done all from the search.  Want to use all of your legacy applications you had installed before the upgrade?  They’ll be there waiting for you.  Want your external gadgets to work with the new OS?  It will.

At a price-point of $39.99 for a limited time, there is absolutely no reason to not upgrade; with it you’ll get improved performance and productivity.  Meet and Get Windows 8 [HERE]

For those of you who think this change is too radical and that this OS is so hard; do yourself a favor and give it a chance.

Microsoft has completely changed their image for this release, this is the new Microsoft they are here to stay and I like it.