Microsoft Band 2

On a recent trip to USA I got a nice offer for a Microsoft Band 2. I walked into a Microsoft Store and had a look at the Band 2. And it really blew me away regarding smartbands. The screen is really bright and sharp with nice colors thanks to the amoled screen. And the performance is very good. I like the responsiveness of the user interface. And it looks good too.2016-04-05 13.53.22

So, what actually made me buy this was the above AND it was at a discount to $175 which I think it is absolutely worth. But it also does have a nice optical heart rate monitor and is more or less alone having a UV sensor as well to measure UV in your environment. It will even notify you if you have been out in the sun for a given period of time.

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I brought it home and had a play with it. It does work very well and I really enjoyed the nice build from it. And it was exiting to see my HR for a full day – even though it doesnt measure HR continously – it measures often enough to give you an idea for your day or night.

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I also tried to take it for a trip in the woods and compare it to my Garmin Fenix 3 to see how it performed. It did well, but the sportwatch is clearly the winner here. Even though for the occational hiker this would do fine.

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Display is a little bit better on the Fenix 3 in the sun which it handles without any issue.

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I took it on two trips the time I owned the Band 2 and on one of the trips it measured a little bit shorter distance than the Fenix 3. And on the other it was the opposite. So not I dont have a cunclusion on which GPS performs better, but both are fine. The app gives a lot of nice info after your workout with lots of nice little details. So great work by Microsoft there!

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(sorry about the Norwegian language there)

The sleep monitoring is great to giving you nice details on how your sleep was. I must say – here also Microsoft did a great job with presenting the results in the app.

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(again sorry about the local language)

I wish Garmins app was that good presenting the results from sleep. Clicking the heart icon will display the heart rate measured while sleeping.

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Notifications also works nice. I had a slight issue with emails not being notified even though activated in the app. I did some googling (as you do) and found a nice forum for the band at http://www.reddit.com. Even though reddit.com looks like 1990 I was deeply impressed with the respons to my post there. The one person in the world that I would most want to respond to my post was the developer in Microsoft responsible for the email notification function on the Band 2! … !!!!! That was really cool! I could like a company that puts me directly in touch with the developers! I am still blown away by that. And his respons helped me sort it (proved to be an issue in the new Samsung email app in Marshmellom 6.0.1 which was just released and I had installed before purchasing the band).

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So there you have it. My experiences with the Microsoft Band 2. It is a mindblowingly long step ahead from the Band 1 which looked…beta.. There are three things that I did not like that much with it. Nothing is perfect, but everything is improving, right?

I found it a little bit bulky to wear. I could not decide wihchever way I wanted to wear it. With the screen on the inside our outside. Wearing it on the outside made the battery/UV sensor feel big when putting my hands on the table in front of my computer at work. And turning it around is getting into number two on my list. Even though the build quality and feel of this product is great – it is very sensitive to scratches. The screen is Gorillaglass 3 and was the only thing I did not make a scratch on during my -one week- ownership of this gadget. I was a bit sad to see how easy it got scratches. My Fenix 3 has been my everyday watch for a year and does not have a single scratch! The Band 2 got a few during just a week use and I used it VERY carefully knowing I was going to sell it. And the third thing is the same as with most smart wearables made in 2015 – battery life. It lasted only two days which is not bad but not great either (again Fenix 3 – 10 days with Bluetooth on!!).

All in all – great device if you can bear with the slightly bulky design. And it does support all the three mobile platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone obviously).

BTW: I just sold my Garmin Fenix 3 upgrading to the Fenix 3 HR. Might get into a small review of that one as well.

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Smartwatch vs “smartwatch”

Updated: 18.11.2015

IMG_7512m

I have been using my Garmin Fenix 3 since March this year and I really like that watch. I have been wearing it as my everyday watch since I first received it and I find it hard to take it off. Suddenly with its “smartwatch” functions all regular watches feels obsolete. First – I got really really addicted to get all my notifications discreetly presented to me with my Smartband and Smartband Talk. More so with this Fenix 3 which does everything very well and with battery lasting up to 10 days! I think the 10 days battery will be still impressive for a couple of years from now. More of that later. One thing with the Fenix 3 is’nt is a “smartwatch” by definition of a smartwatch. I have been struggeling a little bit trying to find out why it isnt – or why it is. What makes a watch a “smartwatch”? Honestly I still dont know. But one definition is found here which I think is fair. Then the Fenix 3 is indeed a smartwatch. It can do a lot of things – mostly related to activity tracking, displaying time and notifications. But it does have some functions like weather report, find my phone, music control and bluetooth notifications.

One thing the Fenix 3 doesnt is look like a watch for formal occations. Allthough a lot of people wear sport watch even for formal occations I prefer to dress up a little bit. And that got me looking for an addition. Regular watches are obviously obsolete now when I am used to get my notifications on my wrist (I can not believe I am saying this, but times have changed and so have I). I had a look around and found the Moto 360 (2014) as the best looking “smartwatch” to support Android phones out there.  The 2015 version of the Moto 360 is just out now, but allthough it looks a slightly better – there doesnt seem to be any big technical improvements in anything really.


moto-classic
As you see on the picture – it can look classic and formal to boredome takes it. But one thing I really like is that I can change the watch face in seconds for <current days> mood! So from this slightly boring look…

 

 

moto-fun-bsod

 

…to a very playfull look in matter of seconds.

 

moto-diver

 

 

 

Or how about a heavy duty aviation watch face, Sir?


moto-runner

 

Thanks to internet – watch faces can be found for any mood! Even for sports!

So, all good then? Neh… there are issues with Android Wear. The most striking thing is battery life. Most “proper” smartwatches these days (even 2015 range) lasts for a day. And a day is about 17 hours. Then watch goes out. Black. Brick. Charge and you are fine for the next day and then repeat. Battery seems to be the achilles heel of smartwatches. I am used to my Fenix 3 that lasts for one week+ even with three workouts using GPS for an hour every week. It lasts so long I tend to forget it uses battery. That is one big score to the Garmin. And it makes me grab the Garmin for vacation use where I dont want to commit to charge every night.

moto-flatspot

Another thing that is specific to the Moto 360 is the “flat spot” – the black bart on the bottom of the scereen containing a light sensor. You might have noticed, but its very visible on a white watch face. Not a biggie, but it is slightly annoying. I preffer black backgrounds so its not too annoying – fortunately. Should be mentioned, though! The screen offers a ppi of 205 which admittadly looks sufficient with most watch faces from regular viewing distance.

 

moto-fenix3

Both watches get a little bit of attention when worn. So what do you get from the Moto 360 (or should I say Android Wear) that you dont have on my sportwatch?

Moto 360 (or Android Wear):
+ Looks like a regular watch and very stylish with the screen lit
+ Can change between thousands of watchfaces for any days mood
+ Can do minor responses to SMS and Email, mainly by voice control
+ Can remote control Endomondo for workouts
+ Can be topped up with a wireless charger
==
– Battery life is on the lower side of acceptable
– Not very many apps that actually is usefull
– Screen goes black when not looked at (gestures are working fine to activate screen!)
– Slightly vague vibrations – sometimes I dont even notice the vibrations

Garmin Fenix 3:
+ Looks cool for a sportswatch
+ Battery life is impressive for an activity tracker/”smartwatch”!
+ Has GPS&GLONASS
+ Smart notifications working excellent!
+ Properly water proof (100M)
+ Gives you access to display undismissed notifications on reconnect if you have been out of range for some time (usefull!!)
+ As expected – the best you can get for running & workouts
==
– Can not interact with smart notifications – except dismiss incoming calls
– Screen/watchfaces are a bit boring compared to Android Wear
– Needs a proprietary charging clip

I dont really think the Android software gives any proper functionality over the Fenix 3. On Android Wear I have actually less settings to play with for notifications where I feel I am in total control with the Fenix 3. I am a little bit surprised the Android Wear doesnt offer more functionality and the limited number of available apps for it doesnt seem to do more than what I could do with the Fenix 3 as well.

I will test using the Moto 360 as a sportwatch in a later update.
So if I could have only one? Garmin Fenix 3 would be it! It is almost perfect!

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2015 – the year I took down two phones (or so)

I have been glued to my mobile phone since I first got one 21 years ago. I have owned A LOT of phones since my first. About one a year – sometimes more. Never once have I broken any of them, hardly even scratched it. So the day my Sony Xperia Z3 dropped to the ground and broke the screen at first I could not believe it… And it even happened when I was away on a weekend trip just days before I was to go for another holiday abroad. Good timing!

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At first the damage seemed like something that I knew would annoy me a little, but after about an hour the phone started acting weird. The screen started to flicker and then went all black and I was not able to use the phone at all…

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So I had to get a new phone in a hurry. If you know me, you know I am not very sad about the idea of getting a new phone (just the money bit makes me a little sad 😉 ). I went to the local electronics store where I was and after some considering, I went home with an LG G4. It was too boring to just get another Z3, even if I liked it very much. 2015’s new phones had arrived and I have read a lot about the LG phones which have had some impressive specs when they launch year after year. And the camera in this one seemed like a winner. Also the Samsung S6 series doesnt support SD cards, which made me a bit reluctant about them. I was very happy with the G4 for about four weeks… when disaster (a little one) striked again…. No, I did not drop it this time, but suddenly some of the paint on the inside of the front screen fell off.. Very strange! I went to my local store of the electronics chain I got the phone from and they immediately took it inn for service.

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So.. I had to get another phone while I was waiting, wasnt I? 😉 This time I got very tempted by a good deal on a Samsung S6 edge (green). The phone I actually wanted when I bought the G4. But decided against it because of the fixed iPhoneish storage sizes that are for some reason not expandable with SD cards. (Why!??) Anyways, I got the 64GB edition which should be sufficient for a while at least. I like to keep all my pictures and music with me… I really liked it! The edged glass and the metal build is the best I have ever experienced in a phone. I must say Samsung really nailed the design this time!

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The edges makes my brain think the phone is only a couple of mm’s thick and even with the tiny edge I think the phone is easy to hold. Report back from the service for the LG, they very conveniantly claimes it was…(drums)… water damage! So apparantly, the LG is not a phone that can be used with regular workouts with my phone in the usual place on my arm (as other phones seems to cope well with). Time to decide which one to keep then! And also a wrap for this post. I kept the Samsung! The big high res screen on the LG had a better use of the high pixel density than the slighly smaller Samsung screen. You could really tell it was high resolution! And I think the contrast was a little bit better as well. The G4 had expandable storage with SD card, impressive camera with handy manual control and a nice price. I still miss it a little bit!

But the Samsung S6 edge really hit it this year. I am so impressed by the build and how the phone feels in my hand that I am unable to part with it. Screen is really really good when its not sitting next to the LG G4. And the camera is maybe just a thad better than the G4, but both of them are really really good for phone cameras. I hate the home button though. Fingerprint sensor is nice, but I prefer a stock Android software button as on Z3 and G4 over the hardware button. Finding original accessories for the G4 was also hard. If not impossible. But Samsung is easy. I picked up an wireless charging pad and the version 2 of the clear view cover (version 1 scratches the screen!). The clear view cover looks awesome on pictures, but the quality of it does not match the price. I’m not a fan of any covers and very much not so on a phone which is built from so great materials. Whats the point if you just put it in a “cheap” cover, right? (this one not so cheap in price) But there are times when a cover is handy so I like to have one available for those occations.

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Till next time. Will type some words about my new headset.

PS. I replaced the screen of the Z3 and it now works fine again. Allthough not very water proof if I am to believe the pressure sensor.

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Update missing/required in SharePoint

Today I had a strange scenario in a SharePoint farm. My task today was to install the security patches for SharePoint that was available trough Windows Update. I did that and rebooted the servers as required. When they were all up again I entered Central Admin and checked the servers in farm list. I was met by this:

patch1

 

I checked the server that had the Installation Required message, and SharePoint was complaining that it was missing a hotfix on that server:

patch2

The first thing I checked was if the hotfix was actually installed on the server. And it was!
So what to do then? Then I discovered the Powershell command Get-SPProduct –local
Running this will force a timer job to run on the server and refresh the patch status. I ended up running this on all the servers in the farm as each time I checked the Product and patch installation status in Central Admin it discovered missing patches on the other servers (which werent missing). After running this command on all the servers, the farm was finally ready for a psconfig to commit the upgrade.

Hope this info help someone! 🙂

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A week with the Fenix 3

Yesterday I have been using my Fenix 3 for a full week. So I kind of thought it might be interesting to sum up my experiences with it so far.

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I’ve been using it as an activity tracker as well as using the Bluetooth notification functionality that it offers 24/7. And I am happy to say I left the Sony Smartband Talk in the drawer and havent missed it for a second! The activity tracker is not an important thing of my life. Just something I like glancing at from time to time. It seems to work fairly good. The sleep monitor is different from what I am used to, but I also like this approach and it is fairly good at guessing when I am actually sleeping even though I have set standard times for it.

The Bluetooth notifications are working fine most of the time. I have had a couple of times where it did not notify emails, but very rarely. Even though I had my phone next to me. One major improvement over the Smartband Talk is that it saves any notification in the widget, so even though I dont check the notification within the pop-up limit, I can still check back later to see what happened. The widget will replicate active notifications on the my phone. So if I clear the notifications on the phone, it also clears from the watch widget. Very nice!

The GPS accurracy is OK, but not impressive. I have started testing it and I must say the TomTom Multisport is the best I have seen regarding GPS accurracy. I have mostly used the Fenix 3 on forest road or mountain paths so I’ve been giving it a hard time. And I had to do a comparison on a forest road with my friends Suunto Ambit 3:

fenix3-ambit3.jpgFenix 3 with GLONASS ON and 1 sec recording. From this little test, I’d say its about a draw. None of them are perfect and none of them are horrible. But the victory must go to the Ambit 3 because of consistancy. If you take a look at the zoomed area it is much more consistant than the Fenix 3.

But there are things that make the Fenix 3 knock the socks out of the Ambit 3, and that is everything else more or less. I have already customized my activity screen so that I get all available information from the watch that I like to check within an activity. Everything from heart rate graphics to time of sunset. I’ve also included a trackmap similar to what you see on this picture:

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Great for when you are on the return on a forest path and not 100% familiar with the trail. Though in an activity you are not easily able to zoom as indicated on the picture above, so you will only know once you are really out of the trail. You then have to exit the activity and then you will be able to navigate to the screen you se above. Bit of know-how and clicking required.

I have also created tracks for all my previous training paths. In that case I can keep track on where I am on the map, my time ahead or behind the time set for this track and the ETA. Maybe slightly more cool than useful, but definitely a cool feature!

In short – 95% happy with this and would definitely buy again at this stage. The possibilities here are great. Keep in mind that in the time of writing this watch has just about reached the shops. I am expecting more apps to be available as shops get these in stock.

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Garmin Fenix 3 arrived today – first impressions

Wohoo! I received my new GPS sportwatch today!

fenix3

This is a cool watch! I am really happy with it on my first day!
It arrived and was unwrapped within seconds. It looks really great and feels very good to the touch. Definately a different league of quality feel from the TomTom Multisport did.

It had just 4% of power when I turned it on so I immediately had to charge it. And it is one of those devices that doesnt let you use it when charging (¤%#¤!!). So, patiently I waited so I could set it up. The setup process was pretty simple and I went off up a hill as soon as I had enough power to take a walk. The menus are quick and snappy. I was notified every KM and I do receive alerts whenever someone text me, I receive an email or the phone rings. Very neat to have this functionality at my wrist while struggling up a mountain path. Not so good for zoning out, though! 😀

When I got home I started setting up my perfect activity screen and it was a lot easier then on my previous Fenix 2 where everything was in code…. Now everything is almost GUI and you are able to see how it will look.

Also there are apps. Apart from weather there is music control which is genious! I can now start/pause, skip and control volume level is great when out walking or running like I do. For Android users this is extra great as most headsets dont offer other than pause/play.

The Fenix 3 also has built in activity tracker. I have gotten very used to Sony Smartband and Sony Smartband Talk that I have used now for almost a year in total. I bought the Smartband for fun, but just couldnt stop using it and later replaced it with the Talk. Over the next few days I will try to use only the Fenix 3 for this. Also for daily step counter and sleep monitor just to see how it works. I may even do a comparison later just for the science of it. 🙂

So all good the first day and I am really happy with the purchase. Watch looks good and seems to work fine. I like the potential in the apps store (Connect IQ Store). Could be great. The only thing that worries me is the GPS accurracy which I have written about before. I’ll do a comparison to my friends Suunto Ambit 3 and report. See you!

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Properly reusable workflow

A client recently asked for a document library with a custom content type and a workflow to remind responsible users to review documents annualy. The little twist here is that they also wanted to have this document library on several sites for different departments.

Usually a workflow is connected to a list, so there was no very obvious way to solve this. Not untill I discovered that you were able to attach a workflow to a content type in the content type hub. But I struggled a little bit to get it working untill I found this neat little trick:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/chaks/archive/2012/05/05/workflows-and-content-type-hubs-whats-the-story.aspx

I followed the steps in SharePoint 2013 Online and it actually worked. I also tested that if I update the workflow after the above procedure, it actually updates the content types as you would expect when republishing them. Sweet!

BTW: here is the reminder script that I used as a SP 2010 workflow:
http://markeev.com/Articles/item-expiration-reminders-in-sharepoint-using-workflow.aspx

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So, why dont you just use your phone with a HRM band, then?

I am so happy you asked!

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Your smartphone is capable of most things these days. And – at least at the time of writing this – there isnt a thing your smartphone cant do that the GPS sportwatch can. So why bother with getting a GPS sportwatch? My smartphone even supports Ant+ so I can use the same HRM band as I use on the GPS sportwatch. And on top of that I bring my smartphone on any trip I do for availability/music and on top of that again the first thing I do when I get home is to upload my walk/run to Endomondo. On my phone its already there with live tracking and everything..

Sounds reasonable, right?

Yeah, so I got rid of the Fenix 2 and the TomTom that I borrowed and started using my phone. My first attempt started really promising. HRM connected to the phone, music on, phone in my pocket and off we go. When I got back the session was on Endomondo already and the GPS tracks were impressively accurate even though the phone was in my pocket. What I miss from using the watch was fairly obvious: MUCH more effort needed to get a quick status from the device when in the activity. Up with the phone, turn on screen, type the pin and switch from Wimp to Endomondo app. Then power off and back in the pocket (and dont you drop that phone!).

So obviously you get a lot more accessible status information!

A few days later I tried again. I thought using one of those fancy armbands would help, so I got to borrow one. Hoping the GPS accurracy might be improved. I discovered that the status info from my phone when in an activity was even harder to reach on my arm. The touch display worked fine, but the phone is really not in the best position for usability and it felt like it would slide off my arm all the time. AND most interestingly – the GPS accurracy was about the same as when having the phone in my pocket. One note I did though, was on a session out in the mountain I missed the path somewhere and the Endomondo map was really useful for my trackback info to the path (which was about 30 meters, btw). I’ll definately check the Fenix 3 trackback functionality when it arrives.

So. I miss the GPS watch. It just made everything simpler and more accessible. I also miss the training effect number for a session that I got on my Garmin watch to get some indication on how much I was really pushing in my session. I guess the sportwatch comes really at use if you are the kind of person that like to know everything about your session at all times. Allthough you will get most of the info you need from using your smartphone, you just can not beat a dedicated device. Hope the Fenix 3 will be here soon then!!

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Sportwatch GPS vs Phone GPS

For fun, I also did a comparison between my ex Fenix 2 and my Sony Xperia Z3 phone.

XperiaZ3vsFenix

 

The GPS tracks from the Fenix 2 is not very impressive as we already know. What I am a little impressed about is the GPS tracks from my phone! It was in my pocket for the whole walk and still recorded very accurately. The Fenix 2 was exposed and on my wrist the whole time (outside my jacket).

I _really_ hope the Garmin Fenix 3 is a lot improved. I still miss my Fenix 2 (who would think that??) and knowing it does have a different GPS sensor with GLONASS I hope there is any progress – from the well known GPS maker Garmin…

..oh, and I already have the Fenix 3 on preorder.. Will update once it’s here!

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More sportwatch accurracy

I recently posted my findings with my ex Garmin Fenix 2 compared to my friends Suunto Ambit 3 which was quite shocking.

Recently I was using the TomTom Multisport + on the same route and here is a screenshot of the accurracy from that watch.

TomTom-MultisportvsAmbit3I

I didnt bother comparing it to the Fenix 2 as it was too bad to compare.
But I must say it looks pretty well compared to the Ambit 3. None of them are quite perfect, but I think I’d give the TomTom a win here.

 

 

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