I was curious about Vibram FiveFinger shoes that keeps popping up in stores and web stores. I own a couple of Vibram-soled shoes. Many which I can swear by. From RockPorts to UGG which have outlasted other shoes I own. If you haven’t heard about the FiveFingers, these are basically extremely light ninja-like shoes like those of the dorky fingered socks.. except made of more durable material and a sole to cushion your feet from the impacts it receives from various form of exercises and activities. They make these for distance running, trail running and just daily use too. In favour of the weightless ergonomic look and since I do tonnes of dragon boating and stand up paddling, I kinda got my eyes set on one of their products which markets specifically for water activities.
There are various kind of shoes you can wear while doing water activities. Most of these would be neoprene based from 2mm to 5mm for various weather conditions. These are good but it usually gets pretty hot and sweaty when you’re wearing them in the peak of summer. This design however are derived from scuba diving or snorkelling as they cool you down when you’re submerged in water. But when you’re staying on ground exposed to hot sun or winter’s weather, it can be pretty unbearable. Then there is the netted top material aqua-shoe that’s sprawling the market with a thick polyurythane sole underneath. Even though they work for its purpose, you tend to however lose your sole senses due to its thick unflexible soles. Despite all the comfort claims, this shoes make your toes and feet completely senseless; like having on gum boots when you want to feel the grass under your feet. If you catch my drift.
When in water, and on a paddle board, you want to feel connected to the water. Many will either go bare feet as it gives you that connection while you’re applying pressure on the deck of the board whilst paddling. On a dragonboat or SUP in summer weather, barefeet feels great but you don’t want to step off the board into old deck splinters or unexpected sharp rocks. And for us who trains on fresh water, these murky water sometimes makes your feet slippery during the power phase of your stroke. You’re transferring the full weight of the paddle to the bottom of your feet and the last thing you’d want it to do is slip.
Less about paddling technique, back about the Signa shoe and its advertising claims.
Whether kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding or simply walking the rocky shores all summer, the FiveFingers® Signa is the shoe for you. The segmented Coral outsole made of Vibram® TC-4 Plus rubber ensures ultimate grip and protection in the water and allows natural foot flexion when swimming. Small perforations in the sole encourage water drainage, minimize weight, and speedup drying time. The upper is built with a combination of synthetic and abrasion resistant fabrics to protect the foot. The Signa is finished off with a structural hook and loop strap for a secured fit. Machine washable. Air dry.
So I bought myself the Vibram FiveFingers Signa in January 17, 2015. I decided on these vs the TrekSport which also claims to be water specialized design due to its breathing sole. Water in – water out. Quick dry. It takes a bit of practise to get these on and off your feet. As advised, you should choose the proper size that allow your heel to firmly seat in the heel cup and for me this was one size smaller than the normal shoe size I wear. So in general, if you’re like me wearing a 44 you’d want to get a 43 to have a proper snug fit. So Jack is happy with his shoe fit. But through time and putting it to its paces, that’s where it becomes less desirable. Jack is starting to not like it.
After less than six months of use (2nd June 2015 at the time of writing) the shoe is starting to break apart. The first to snap off was the rear loop. You have to understand the snugness of these shoes when you try to get them on. The thing just decided it’s had enough and snapped off exactly where the stitches are. It was a perfect rip. Like that of a postage stamp. This was just the first of many other failure symptoms to come.
The following week during my SUP race here in Netherlands, I thought the shoe had a less snug feel. A closer look unveiled that the rubber seal which connects the sole to the upper synthetic material is also torn. I’m beginning to doubt that this shoe was ever tested on and off water for this length of use. But 3x a week and about 2 hours average each time is not too much I think.
And the rest just starts to fall apart. The glue adhesive on the bottom of the toes have also started to give way and if you look closely to the upper synthetic material, it has started to tear in various places. It may be made for water, but I think its just not weather-proofed. This shoes dry fast but it feel like the materials used couldn’t withstand the repeated wet-wear and dry over a repeated period – of I say 6 months.
So now I am at a loss of whether the shoe was well worth the $90 I paid for when it starts to deteriorate after 6 months of use. I wear them on average 3x a week for my dragonboat and SUP trainings. Nothing extreme like jumping rocks / running distances what so ever. To make matters slightly more complicated, I got these in Florida during my travel and I doubt the retailers in Netherlands would even want to bother with my issue on this shoe even if they stock them here on the shelves. But one thing for sure, I’d be more wary to look for feedbacks on this water-claim Signa shoes before giving them your hard earned money.
If any of you know where I can get this fixed, replaced or warrantied, do direct me to the right pls. I twittered about the torn loop once on Twitter with @FiveFingers tagged on it but never got any response from them. Too busy selling I guess.
— rastAsia (@rastAsia) May 4, 2015
Needless to say. It might be the last time I look into FiveFingers as a watersports wear. I was sceptical when I got it, and despite the great feel it gives, the sudden wear and break down on its material and build makes it an undesirable product for its claimed purpose. I guess I’m back to the old smelly neoprene boots when I hit the water. At least they can take the 5 year beatings without a problem. Don’t believe the hype. And don’t fall for false marketing.
I finally backed on something I liked on kickstarter last Christmas. Since I’m always in search of a good mini speaker(s) to lug around when I travel, I figured there’d be something in there that could improve the way we listen to audio coming from our smartphones apart from being attached to cords of headphones and such. Notice how I said audio and not just music? You see, music this days are primarily still mixed in stereo (and I say so coz music engineers rarely do Mono testing compatibility this days) and if your hardware only supports Mono, chances is that you’re only listening to the Left channel of the audio mix. I sure hope that’s not the case with the product we’re gonna be talking about here..
Hidden Radio & Bluetooth Speaker
I’ve been using Singapore-produced X-Mini Max II where ever I roam; to the beach, the park, in Bali, on the boat or just right in the living room with an iPad to listen to webcasts. But last Christmas, when I saw the design from John and Vitor… I thought it’s about time I try something untethered, and a pretty looking one to boot.
What John van Den Nieuwenhuizen said about their design made me want to try their speaker out.
“Radios and speakers are often large and obtrusive, we created the HiddenRadio + BT Speaker using simple, unassuming, intuitive design so it can be loved in any home.”
This is true.. The thing that never got emphasized though is that this radio is an FM based receiver. So I don’t know if it’d receive all stations when you bring it with you across different hemispheres. In Europe the stations are spaced at 9kHz intervals, and in the US they use 10kHz spacing. Most modern radios won’t let you tune between these spacings. Since there is no AM then no problem. Smartly enough, the unit uses simple 2-button Up/Down Scan function to lock on to any good FM transmission available. You’d have to guess what station you’re listening to as there’s no LCD indicator on the frequency you’re on.Thus the name is true, there is a ‘Hidden Radio’ built into the Bluetooth speaker. Something to add about the FM radio, you’d have to plug in an external FM antennae for better reception. Curious why they didn’t use the knob itself as a brushless antennae.
THE LOUDNESS WAR AND IT LOOKS METALLICA
The Bluetooth Speaker would crank audio up til just over 80dB . Pretty loud claim for something its size. There’s a video comparison on the audio quality compared against well known Jawbone speaker. But seeking deep into HRBS site, there’s no where in tech specs that they mention the speaker’s range for Frequency Response. Proprietary 360° sound diffuser.. that’s all that’s written under Audio Specs.
No buttons, just one giant knob to lift and turn. The higher you lift the cover, the louder it gets. That simple? Not so.. Two things..
I’m curious how the mechanism is designed for this to work smoothly. They claim that it should be effortless to lift the lid without having to hold the base. There’s gotta be some sort of gummy rubber placed on the base to create friction from the base to spin as you turn the top cap. And if I’m right, then you’d need a little practise to actually do the twist-to-turn-on-and-raise-up-the-volume functionality. Eitherwise it’d be a grab and turn like what I saw on SlashGear’s video review. And notice how the lid is twitsted clockwise to lift? Its counter intuitive on how we always twist anti-clockwise to open a lid.
Its a gimmick I think. If you don’t turn that knob all the way up, the sound is bound to be muffled. Looking at the picture again, you see that the speaker grills sit all around under the knob casing. You don’t adjust the volume of a speaker by blocking the face of the tweeter or cones do you? Even when you lower down the volume, that speaker cone needs to be free and unblocked to continue reproducing the full frequency range of audio that you’re listening to. So I’m curious how they’d overcome that issue based on their design. I believe you just have to keep it wide open to get the full range and adjust audio from the playback device. If this falls true, then there’s a huge design flaw against the aesthetic idea. Well even I fell for it!
With AirPlay enabled on the iOS device and paired via bluetooth, HiddenRadio will now appear as one of your external audio device. Switching speakers is effortless.
Built-in battery is claimed to give about 15hrs of play time. Which I hope is made easily replaceable when shelf-life is reached. I can’t even remember what their final decision was.. as to whether a wall plug would be delivered with the product or not.
Looking further into the design itself I think all is good except for two critical items..
ONE: They forgot to add in a microphone. Kinda defeat its purpose if you have to run back to the phone to speak and listen back via HRBS. It should work fine for Skype and FaceTime video chats fine as you’d have to be close to your phone for video framing anyhow, thus using the mic on mobile device is inevitable.
TWO. I wish they had a Call Answer or Call Reject button. Think about it. It’s almost a ‘speakerphone’ but you can’t talk into it or stop the phone from ringing when somebody dials in.
WHAT ABOUT QUALITY AUDIO
Alternatively, if you’re looking for quality speakers that offer wireless bluetooth functionality which focuses on sound quality as well as functionality apart from clean looks, checkout Soundmatters’ foxL v2.2 speakers. Claimed as worlds best bluetooth stereo speaker, which comes with a hands-free microphone that enables better speakerphone / conferencing. And with no surprise, foxL also comes with one-touch answer/reject/end-call button. Batteries lasts only about 8 hours it makes sense as you get full fidelity stereo sound. Shame I only learnt about Soundmatters’ foxL after pledging for HRBS! Aarrghh!!!
Shame that I cannot do any audio comparison of Foxl against the HRBS right now. But come the time, you bet that I will do back-to-back referencing on the audio spectrum from HRBS. I sure hope it stands to its competitors even if its not a stereo speaker.
We’re just days away before receiving our Hidden Radio and Bluetooth Speaker here in Holland.. and with the new announcement of iPhone5 yesterday, audio is triumphantly one of the most focussed enhancements in recent comm tech developments. High Fidelity audio is the way forward. Not just about being wireless. Not just about sitting pretty. For now, we wait, see and listen.
If you just saw that painful loss Germany suffered playing against Italy during the semi-finals to the European Cup, you would probably feel the loss the team felt. It’s a long rivalry, not only based on the sport of football but also on the brands who sponsored their jerseys. Germany wears Adidas. Italy wearing Puma. What’s the significance? A plenty actually.
The greatest sports rivalry is not Man U v Liverpool, or Ghana v Nigeria or Kotoko v Heats of Oak or Usain Bolt v Tyson Gay, or any other of those playground “my team can beat your team” fairytales listed on ESPN or Sky sports. No, the greatest sports rivalry revolves around two siblings: the brothers who created the companies Adidas and Puma.
In 1924, in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, two brothers started a shoe business. The older Rudi was a veteran of the Great War. The younger, Adolf or Adi, as his family called him had used their mother’s large washroom to start making shoes in 1920, out of whatever materials he could scrounge.
They named their company Gebruder Dassler Schulfabrik. According to Sneakerhead.com, the brothers had 25 employees and were turning out 100 pairs of athletic shoes a day by 1927.
In the early 1930s, Dassler began designing shoes for specific sports. Dutch athletes in the 1928 Olympics wore Dassler shoes, and sales went up the roof.
In 1936, the brothers hit gold literally: “Competing at the Berlin Olympic Games, American hero Jesse Owens won four Gold medals wearing Dassler shoes. During the Games, almost every member of the German Football team wears Dassler shoes. In total there were seven Gold and five Bronze medal winners wearing Dassler shoes at the competition. Additionally, athletes wearing Dassler shoes shattered two world and three Olympic records.”
- Adidas Owen Dassler
- Puma Atom
If you know history, then you know what happened next. Company profiles are a bit vague on the brothers’ wartime activities, but sneakerhead.com claims the Nazis seized the factories. Bookrags.com says that while older brother Rudi was drafted into the German army, Adi ran the business and produced footwear for the soldiers. They fell out during World War II, probably over political differences, and founded rival firms. They refused to work together any longer.
Rudi moved across town and across the river to open his own company, and then named it PUMA. That same year he introduced the ATOM, his first soccer or football boot. The West German National team wore it during their first post-war match, and player Herbert Burdenski scored the team’s first goal while wearing the Puma ATOM.
Adi Dassler named his company Adidas, of course. He’d developed the 3-stripe logo in 1941, and registered it as Adidas’ trademark. In the Helsinki Olympics of 1952, Adidas shoes reigned: Czech runner Emil Zátopek won three gold medals wearing Adidas: the 5000 meter, the 10,000 meter, and the marathon. To top it off, his wife Dana Ingrova took the gold in the women’s javelin event also wearing Adidas shoes.
The brothers never reconciled, or even spoke to each other again. As for Herzogenaurach, it split down the middle. Adidas and Puma were the biggest employers around and everyone was loyal to one brother or the other.
In an interview by Frank Dassler, grandson of Rudi, who said, “There was an Adidas butcher and a Puma butcher. If there was a chance to avoid being in the same class as another Adidas person, from the Puma perspective, then we certainly tried to avoid this. Certainly, the restaurants were split, so there was a typical Adidas hotel or Adidas restaurant and the other guys didn’t want to go there.” Frank Dassler also raised some eyebrows in the town by working for both Puma and Adidas.
Rudi succumbed to lung cancer in 1974, leaving Puma to his son. The family sold the company in 1989. Adi died in 1978, and his son took over Adidas till his death in 1987. Even in the Herzogenaurach cemetery, their graves are as far apart as possible.
Since 2007, Puma has been majority-owned by PPR, the French luxury goods maker that also owns Gucci. Adidas Group is much more widely owned, with no individual shareholder having more than 5%.
But in September this year, both Adidas and Puma decided to put their rivalry past behind them and join forces towards peace. The 60-year-old feud was ended when employees from both companies shook hands and then played a football match in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, where both are based. The match was the first joint activity held by the two companies since the brothers left their shared firm in 1948. Don’t ask me who won because there were no actual winners. The match ended 7 – 5 but the teams were not split into Adidas and Puma – with both sides made up of staff from both companies. Adidas boss Herbert Hainer played as a striker for the winning team, which also included Puma chief Jochen Zeitz in goal.
I’m not a keen admirer of Puma designs, so I guess if I lived in the town of Herzogenaurach you would know where my loyalty lies. Unfortunately the closest I come to Herzogenaurach is Stuttgart- Wangen, right in the mist of Mercedes and Porsche.
Not to forget. Spain will be wearing Adidas. Against Puma dorned Italians.
– Original post available from Ghanaweb
If you been reading my blog, you’d know I love creating cinemagraphs. It’s basically a still picture laid in front of a short frame of video looped behind an area of exposed mask. Not too sure if you can make any sense out of that. But if you Google on the subject on creating Cinemagraphs you’d probably understand the lil painstaking process of creating this modern-day gif animations. But not until recently..
Now there’s an app to feed myself further into this subtle art of emphasizing motion within a momentary period. Cinemagram allows you to create gifs right out of your iPhone. Yep. No computer needed. The app has yet to be polished but its basic function works a charm. It’s so awesome that by the time you read this there’s almost 400,000 cinemagrams created within a week from it’s date of release with version 1.
Below are examples of cinemagrams I was able to create in matter of minutes. Compare that to possibly an hour spent for one like above using a DSLR camera and selected frames processed in Photoshop. Oh btw, they call it Cinemagram to compliment the ever famous and successful Instagram iPhone App. The developers are not related in any way. I think.
Basic fundamental of cinemagraphs uses a sequence of moving images kept at a minimum 15 frames for ideal playback when inserted to the web. Keeping the file small is key. Thanks to today’s fast processors and lightning fast internet speed, this modern-day GIF revelation is making a come back with a BANG!
Cinemagram seems to select up to 44 frames of the video that you shoot within the app. But the primary frame that you want to choose as the masking source is not selectable. I hope this would be updated soon in future updates. On default it uses the first frame of the selected video selection. Creating these cinemagrams is pretty simple:
- Shoot the video of the subject you want to animate as steady as you can. I have my iPhone 4 in a KUNGL thus it’s always easy to set it up on a tripod of any sort. You can also use snapmountforiphone adapter or equivalent. From this video capture, only 2-3 seconds of the video would be used. Select the the In and Out point of your animated frames that’s to be used in the loop. Tap and Hold to zoom in. Press Play to preview the loop. When happy click SAVE and the video loop will be compressed for editing. I think Cinemagram compress the video into approximately 15 frames per second. But I’m not gonna do the maths..
- You now can pinch zoom and finger paint (draw a mask) on the area that you want exposed, this selected space will reveal the looped video in background.
- Once happy with your mask, you’re given the option to COLORIZE. The options currently available are : Raw, Xpro, Toaster, Redscale and B&W.
- Let it render couple of seconds and you’re presented with the animated gif which is defaulted to play in Auto Reverse mode. This aids to create a smoother animation. If your video crop is smooth enough to be played in a continuous cycle like the bicycle wheel above, then you can turn off the Reverse function.
It’s tricky to make a seamless continuous cycle in cinemagram, the option to choose the specific 1st and last frame is
still not made possible. Most I made have default Reverse mode turned on. I do have a looped example below with the Towards Europoort cinemagraph. But it’s a shame that this does not even show who created it, when, or how many people have liked or viewed it. These are key features on how to raise users (and developers) awareness and satisfactions I think. Below I’ve made the animation bigger as the ones used in Cinemagram browser link are pretty small at it’s original resolution. Bigger = Better 🙂 Right?
Can you spot the 1st and last frame? Compare this with the seamless GIF of the bicycle wheel above.
Try viewing it in the Original Link. Bigger is better right? 🙂
With REVERSE mode ON: You barely see that the drink is pouring OUT.. and then pouring IN. Original Link.
My sleeping tiger. Original Link
- Easy to create short cinemagraphs.
- With 3G network or WiFi, you can share links to Twitter, Facebook & Tumblr.
- Great way to discipline and focus on details you want emphasized while shooting video / picture.
- HTML EMBED code to help share your Cinemagram in a blog.
- Cinemagraph tool in your pocket. Hard to beat that.
- Costs $1.99 with compatible iPhone. No need for external frame editor / computer.
- Induce creative fun. Totally addictive.
- Cannot import from video from Camera Roll Library
- Cannot add Hashtags or add Comments
- Limited to sharing on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr
- You don’t get notified if anyone Liked or Shared your Cinemagram 😦
- There is no FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE option
- No search option via Title or Tag for cinemagrams already created
Cinemagram App costs $1.99 on iTunes and brings further addiction and anti-socializing when you have your iPhone with you in public. But yea, they’ll understand why when they see your masterpiece. Mail me your’s when you’re done!
For an interesting PBS short about GIFs and its modern uses in Cinemagraph check this video.
– “Let’s re-invent the wheel when it works…” Right? And re-veal it to the world! –
I remember 2 years ago when I got my N95 that it had this BarCode reader function built-in. Did anybody in Europe actually use that technology? For a while, I thought its going to be the future of super market shopping! Tag your product and then scan your payment through at the cashier(less) counter on your way out. All by using your smart phone. Right??! Nop. The technology just never caught on here.
Apparently, that is how its being used in Japan. You scan the product you intend to buy then place it in your shopping basket then complete your payment via either scanning your bank code at the cashier or (like in Australia) complete that retail purchase via encrypted sms banking as introduced by NAB.
Dutch supermarket franchise Albert Hein is almost close to this. The only exception is that you pick up the chunky bar code reader from the front of store. You then scan as you shop, with your cart’s value and item listed on the scanner, and then swipe your card at the exit without having any human intervene at all. The bar code reader is returned to its dock and its batteries re-charge for the next registered shopper that comes in. Scan and Go. Clean – but not as green. They COULD eliminate that bar code reader altogether in future equation with the emergence of secured mobile banking and of course the application of this codes in todays’ smart phones. Each tagged product would not only show its pricing, but when purchased, also be given the opportunity to ‘advertise for free’ by leaving URLs that could be accessed later on whenever the customer please. There is more to this. Since the data exchanged can be used for a broader spectrum of possibilities, just think what companies could do with efficient market research data collection. Of course then, there need to be a buyer and distributor agreement for such a transaction to take place. But that’s definitely the near future. And a lot of security measures to be planted on privacy issues of sort.
QR Code two years ago was already the future in Japan. You get codes printed on bus ads, banners, magazines, food products, etc, you name it. The codes are great because they’re small. It gives designers the complete canvas to be creative with ideas without the clutter and worry of text placements for that dreaded boring URL. OK I may be exaggerating there. But after scanning, interested customers are quickly brought into the product realm within their mobile device. Given the lightning speed of mobile communication in Japan, large information could be transfered instantaneously. They could be watching the video advertisement directly from the clouds of your very own server, further saving the costs for magazine prints, radio or tv adverts.
With the emergence of more 3G phones globally, Microsoft tries to add some color to the rest of the world. And of course by that, they’d want a piece of pie to control this upcoming trend. Its a new and improved way of selling the idea of an already existing system. Only this time, polished by MS. Enter Microsoft TAG…
The Tag creation option is currently available for free on its Beta stage. You need to have a current Microsoft Live or hotmail account and you’re set to create your TAG. The fact that you can place a duration date greatly helps. This will void a TAG which becomes handy for fixed-date product promotion. Think stickers or badges. Even though I prefer the looks of the QR code more than MS’s colored forms, there’s more behind its ‘pastel’ technology. Right now its just a matter of form over function. And definitely a great great plus for advertising companies.
With QR Code, the only way to monitor its response is from the date of event itself. With MS TAG you can monitor in real time. You log into your tag account and on the statistics chart it shows how many times somebody actually flashed their phone to ‘view’ your advertisement.
This becomes a highly important statistics for advertisors. How often have companies placed their ads in magazines and blindly left to guess how it did in response to sales? Chances of consumers viewing the picture/slogan and going on to the following page or bulletin is left to chance. On the other hand if its MS TAGged, the information is relayed to the advertiser right away. By default that adverts would remain in the mobile device for later viewing. How many times have you forgotten to clip that coupon where that perfume or DVD is going on 50% discount, just until you got somewhere near the store and say, “Damn, that ads sitting at home!” Now you can tell if the ads placed on say the train station is less effective than what’s placed in front of the ladies restrooms!
Here’s what it says on Microsoft’s page. “Creating tags is easy, and during our beta, free! Just supply the text or the URL to a mobile page you want to display when the Tag is snapped, and we’ll instantly create a Tag you can use. Come back and monitor Tag analytics or create some more.”
Chart above shows how many times the Microsoft TAG I created in Flickr has been scanned for ‘viewing’.
Thus TAG creators can now see in real time how many times your TAG has actually been scanned. It works similarly like Google analytics for URLs visits. THIS is a huge step forward. THIS MONITORING OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE WITH QR CODES. It gives a cost effective way on how or where to improve your ads. And remember, this is your phone sending the 2 way data to Microsoft each time you scan an ad. Its just time before you get GPS input on which location the TAG is most ‘viewed’ at.
But crikey!? Would this give rise to a customer privacy issue? Only time will tell. This wold mean that Microsoft have upper hand info on what you’ve scanned, collecting data from individuals, knowing exactly what ads you’ve scanned based on interest. Remember that web-based mobile devices has its own IP to be able to be on the web for such data transfer to happen. Yes, somebody is watching over you. Should we be worried. Who will MS give this data to? Next thing you know, advertisement pop-ups will start appearing on your mobile cell phone. Or even through your home mail box. Did telephone companies say they will not share your home address? Yep its definitely possible. Your information is value to one business or the other. Information trading is big money these days.
Tag Reader is available for free download for most mobile phones and on iTunes for the iPhone. And whether you’re going to go with QR Code or Microsoft Tag, I think its all a matter of what’s trendy and what’s not. But many in the applied field of business marketing and advertising seems to have already chosen.
Hope its not that too complicated to see who’s tagging you. Thanks for reading.
* PS I am in no way a marketing surveyor. But it doesn’t take much to read and understand onto which direction information technology is going, especially when its handled by Microsoft. Do leave a comment if you agree or disagree about this blog. And don’t worry, it just helps me to know if I’m blabbering all for the wrong/right reasons. ; )