Review – Trainers from space (a.k.a. Airia Ones)

AiriaOneSideView

Disclosure: I was sent this pair of trainers free of charge in exchange for a review of them

I’ve wanted to pick up running again after a bit of a lull since Summer 2014. I’ve got a bit fed up with long distance running and thought it would be a good idea to focus on improving my running times for 10k and below. This meant I was very pleased when I received a new pair of Airia Ones to review.

airia boxThe big deal about these Swedish shoes is that they have been designed with the goal of making you able to run faster. In fact, they give you a 30 day guarantee so you can test it out for yourself risk-free. I was immediately sceptical; it sounds like a big promise to say a shoe can make you run faster. However, as soon as you open up the box (which felt a bit like unboxing an iPhone for the first time) you can see that these trainers are different to your usual Nike or Adidas running shoes. They are so light when you pick them up it reminded me of the polystyrene blocks you get in packaging. The patented outersole (manufactured by Vibram) gives it the unique shape and is firm but flexible. The rest of the upper is made out of an airy mesh and when you put it on it hardly feels like you are wearing anything. 

Continue reading Review – Trainers from space (a.k.a. Airia Ones)

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 50,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Not quite a “post a week” but a vast improvement over last year’s (21 posts and 4500 views). Part of this is directly linked to migrating from the now defunct Windows Live Spaces platform and onto WordPress.

Thanks to all my visitors, I really appreciate your comments and hope you have found something useful, intersting or funny on my blog.

Hopefully 2012 will bring even more interesting posts thanks to my new job (starting next week!). One of my tech resolutions will definitely be to increase the amount of posts I do and taking the drafts that float around in limbo to completed usefull articles.

Here to seeing what 2012 brings 🙂

What is GiffGaff? The best, cheapest mobile network I’ve used!

Get a free Giffgaff SimSmartphones are great. I got a beautiful Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone this time last year and don’t think I’ll ever go back to a dumb/feature phone again. Part of the reason smartphones are so smart is that they have an always on internet connection. Unfortunately, the big mobile phone networks/carriers in the UK (Orange, Vodafone, Three & O2) see this as a great opportunity to squeeze even more money out of you. My phone was originally on Three’s network and although they had great speeds if you went over their measly data allowance you got charged a hefty sum. One month I got charged £15 for data alone! When I called their customer services I was told I’d have to pay if I wanted this itemised and it was my fault for going over the allowance. After about 30 minutes of arguing and being put on hold I gave up, chucked out the Three SIM card and looked into better value options.

Continue reading What is GiffGaff? The best, cheapest mobile network I’ve used!

First look at the Nintendo 3DS at the London Launch Party as a V.I.P.

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend the night schmoozing and boozing a load of “celebrities” at the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS. Unfortunately there was not a stack of free consoles that they were giving away. In fact, there was a mini HMV store inside that had people queuing from 11pm ready to buy at midnight. However, there were plenty of wired in 3DSs to have a go on.

The missusThe 3D effect

At first I thought the 3D was terrible. Pictures were blurry and I had to hold it at an awkward arm-stretched position. I then realised that the 3D slider switch needed to be adjusted slightly for each different game.Once i treated it more like a camera focus (or maybe a radio tuner) I managed to get the perfect 3D image. It was pretty good but worked a lot better at conveying depth rather than things coming out in your face. One unit was showing a 3D video from a Sky TV app and you could see when something tried to come out of the screen it just hit the screen edge and then disappeared. I don’t think I would worry about my kids using it. As long as the focus is correct it would be no different to playing any handheld console, in my opinion.

The games were a bit hit and miss. I really enjoyed playing Street Fighter in 3D, using the wireless connection to battle my wife (I won 2:1). The new circle pad really helped me to “whoop some ass”  and the larger (much) better quality touchscreen helped me pull off some mean combos. The Football and Battleship game was quite dull. The Wii Sports hang-gliding game was a bit too childish for me but I think kids would like it.

Continue reading First look at the Nintendo 3DS at the London Launch Party as a V.I.P.

Review: Windows Phone 7

Live tilesThis is a continuation from my previous hardware review of my Samsung Omnia 7

Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system (OS) for smartphones. They have left behind a long legacy of Windows Mobile code (stopping at v6.5) and built a new OS from the foundation of their Zune mp3 player. Transitioning an mp3 player into a phone sound like a familiar idea? Well it’s no secret that this is Microsoft’s final chance to regain some of the market that Apple swept away from them. Their slow response to change, or innovate, also led to Google’s Android OS get a strong foothold in the market as well as a loyal following. So, has Microsoft done enough to sway the tide? Check out my review below to see if I think it has.

Continue reading Review: Windows Phone 7

Review: Samsung Omnia 7

I was a very lucky winner of a competition on the ubelly blog, receiving the amazing prize of a Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone featuring the new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system.

Omnia7

I received it mid-December so I have had just over a month to get used to it. This review is mainly focussing on the Omnia 7 hardware, I have reviewed the Windows Phone 7 OS in a separate review. This is my first ever smartphone after using a Nokia 6233 for 3 years so bear in mind I won’t be comparing it to any androids or iPhones.

Continue reading Review: Samsung Omnia 7

WP7: My favourite apps

This is a back-dated post due to me having a shuffle around on my blog. I’ll still have the main What I Use » WP7 page but I wanted away of updating that without loosing my app history

I got my Samsung Omnia 7 at the begining of December 2010. As one of the early adopters I thought I should keep a list of the apps that I have downloaded that have lasted longer than a week. They all work in the UK on my Samsung, I can’t vouch for other hardware/locations. I let my kids play with my phone so a few of the apps are for their benefit…honest.

I haven’t paid for a single app yet so all the ones below are available from the marketplace for free 🙂

You may also want to look at all my WP7 posts on my blog for other tips and reviews.

  • Adobe Reader
  • Beezz – awesome twitter client
  • Big Oven/Tesco Real Food – Recipe Finders
  • Break.com Videos – Some funny photos & videos delivered daily, saves me hunting around YouTube 😉
  • CardStar – Keep all your store loyalty cards (e.g. Nectar, Boots, Tesco) on your phone as readable barcodes. UPDATE, this app doesn’t seem to work at Tesco or Sainsbury’s self-service checkouts. I’ve been to embarrassed to show it a real checkout. Still it’s a glossy way to keep a backup.
  • DIY Calculator – Really handy at working out your materials and costs for any DIY projects, seriously considering buying this app.
  • Photo Apps
    • Photogram (Samsung Only)
    • Photo Studio (Samsung Only) – 3 nice effects but needs a bit of tweaking. Currently defaults to VGA quality instead of 5mp.
    • Colorizer
    • FotoChop – add captions to pictures
    • PicFX – Great Tilt-Shift option
    • Pic-o-Twit – Upload directly to Twitter
    • PictureFrame – Provides Slideshow ability
    • Touchnote – send a photo as a real physical postcard
  • Send to WP7 – Pushes a link from your Desktop browser to your phone
  • Currency Convertor
  • Facebook – lovely way to get to most Facebook features
  • Foursquare – not used much but seems good so far
  • Flixster – good for finding local UK cinema times and user reviews. I wish it would let you add your own review to one’s existing Flixster account.
  • Fuels – track your fuel consumption
  • IMDb – I use this practically every time I watch a film now to find actor info or other interesting facts
  • Hangover Helper – genius idea for those who wake up not knowing where they are or what they did last night
  • Music
    • Last.fm – good for an instant hit of decent music
    • Shazam – Identifies tracks playing on a radio/TV and lets you download it staright to your phone. Magic.
    • Lyrics – Search for song lyrics. It also identifies the currently playing track so you can sing along
  • Level – A working spirit level for your phone (Shame Omnia doesn’t stand on it’s edges!)
  • Lunar Phase – Check what phase the moon is in or when the next full moon is
  • Maps [built-in] – Works great. Just needs turn-by-turn navigation to replace my TomTom
  • OneNote [built-in] – Take notes, add pictures, voice recordings, sync to SkyDrive
  • Shopping List – Brilliantly simple but advanced enough to cover my needs
  • Springboard Series for Windows – Technical articles & videos from Microsoft for IT Pros
  • Weather [by the Weather Channel] – Doesn’t look very nice but it’s accurate WeatherBug – Much nicer representation of the weather, good live tile and the RADAR maps work to.
  • Where’s my Car? – Locates your car in case you forget where you parked
  • World Clock – always handy to see when that state-side broadcast is really happening
  • WordPress – Blog while on the go
  • YouTube – A necessary evil 😉
  • Games, Timewasting
    • Magic 7 Ball
    • ElectricBeans
    • Fun Sounds
    • Fake Calling
    • Flashlight 7 – great strobe effect for raving!
    • Flowerz – not particulary great but only free XBOX Live game atm
    • Fruit Ninja (demo)
    • iBlast Moki (demo)
    • Fast Food
    • Ice Ball
    • Impossible Shoota
    • KillTheDuck
    • Omni Jump_Free
    • Plan Bee
    • Pirates Ahoy (Fruit Ninja rip-off)
    • Quadra
    • SkyDiver Classic
    • Swipy Man
    • TouchMeQuick
    • Tic Tac Toe – Great 6×6 grid option
    • Unite – Tilty fun
    • Ultra Air Hockey 2
    • Word Tangle Free

Let me know what you think in the comments or add any recommendations of your own.

You can also read my reviews of the Samsung Omnia 7 hardware and the Windows Phone 7 OS.

Other “What I Use” pages

Capture and Upload Screenshots in an instant with Gyazo

I just got hold of a really useful (multi-platform) tool called Gyazo. It is a single-minded app that will upload an image of whatever you select up to their website to allow easy sharing to twitter, facebook or whatever.

I’ve used Jing before and also heard of ZScreen and SPGrab but Gyazo wins becasuse it is so light and easy to use.

Continue reading Capture and Upload Screenshots in an instant with Gyazo