at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Category: Tools (Page 1 of 11)

Icebug Now4 Review – Bomb (Cyclone) Sneakers

Sneakerhead I am none, more of the techwear-inclined: I like clothing that performs, in looks as well as function.

Shoes for that are actually somewhat hard to find.

Icebug with their Now4 sneakers is a good find also for that, not just for running…

[Full disclosure: They were provided to me by the company, for free, no payment made, to talk about as and even if I pleased, no influence whatsoever exerted.]

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Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro (P)Review

Development of the Suunto Spartan series continues, mainly in terms of the software, but also with a bit of additional hardware – as Suunto makes abundantly clear in today’s news item announcing the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro.

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Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F20 In-Depth Review, Part 1: Get Smart About Your Place, #GetAtHome, In This World

The Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F20, Casio’s second version of an outdoors smartwatch with Android Wear (2.0) was announced at the beginning of 2017.

Sports tech authority DC Rainmaker called himself “perplexed” by it.
I found myself intrigued, now that it includes GPS.

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Blog in Hand

#SympatexHackathon Functional Jacket 4.0

We go outside to enjoy nature… but let’s admit it , we enjoy more than just nature.

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My Trusty Companion, Photographically: Sony RX100 (M2)

Lots of people have asked me how I make my marathon videos (with a Sony HDR-AZ1 action cam: tiny, but alright quality, with such a wide angle lens I can just hold it away from me and vlog away… but that’s a different story).

I have put a lot of thought into upgrading my camera equipment.

So, it comes at a good time that fellow outdoor blogger Astrid of OutsideA(n)dventure [in German] has called for a “blog parade”, basically for different blog(ger)s to write on the same topic and show their take on it.


My Main Camera: Sony RX100 MII

My story with the Sony RX100 has been a strange one.

I was among the first people who bought into that ‘system’ when it came out, with the first version of that camera.

I was pretty definitely among the first people who managed to have their camera disappear on them, and that while outdoors… on the Hong Kong Trail, back in 2013, no less.

A View from the Hong Kong Trail

A View from the Hong Kong Trail

Having already had good experiences (otherwise…) with it, and with the Mark II only just released, I used the opportunity of lower prices in Hong Kong to immediately replace the lost camera.

Outdoors, with an RX100?!

It was and is not an outdoor camera, and that has sometimes shown.

Among other things, I can still play the scene of how I dropped the camera on some rocks on the path to the Höllkogel (and saw it leisurely retract the lens, because the drop sensor was active, while already lying there on the ground) in my mind.

Sunrise Watching

Sunrise Watching at the Höllkogel

I’m not sure anymore, but I think that even came only after the camera failed on me while I was trying to take pictures of the Ötscher with it, carrying it around on Day 1 of the Ötscher Ultra.

After that, when I had the display tilted out while taking a picture, then let it flip back in to the camera body, the camera turned itself off and didn’t save the photo.

My RX100 (II), Today

By now, the lens barrel is dented a bit, the camera seems to be bent a little and the covering on the bottom partly broke off.

The ring around the lens cannot be turned far, let alone easily, anymore.

“Image Database Error” messages have become regular occurrences when I try to view the photos in-camera.

And the camera works rather better again.

The problem with having the screen tilted out and pushing it back has disappeared.

Canal at Night 2

Venice Canal at Night 2

So, this RX100 has seen a lot, and more importantly, I have taken more than a lot of good (and mediocre) pictures with it.

It has even led me to thinking more, much more, about photography as a #GetAtHome practice.

I fear that it will completely break down soon and suddenly, but it still hasn’t.

Why I’m Staying…

Aside from the fear of a sudden break-down, I’d also really like to get a bit more serious with my photography and vlogging.

Full frame would be great. 4K video recording…

… but, few cameras offer such a good mix of capability and portability as the RX100.

The RX1R (II) would be a fascination, but limited through its one lens and not offering 4K video. Its Mark I could be got “cheap” right now, but be even worse in several respects (and hardly future-proofing it).

Newer RX100 models are nice, but I’m not a sports photographer, so their faster burst shooting wouldn’t be for me and the prices are high enough that they give me pause (especially as I’d really like a bigger sensor and the price difference isn’t so great, then).

Anything better/bigger is easily too big.
The a7 series (in its Mark II) would be very interesting, but here things get so expensive yet again, especially with the glass (i.e., lenses – which also make the camera big, in most configurations).

The Best Camera Is the One You Already Own

When a camera costs so much that I could, for the same sum, get a cheaper camera and a flight to Japan, I’m not really tempted (especially given that it would draw down my accounts by quite a sum).

And of course, the RX100 M2 that I have still works, still serves me well, so far… and I don’t have to care for it quite as much as I would have to if I had a new camera.

All the talk of bigger sensors and what-not is somewhat moot, anyways, when all the photos just end up on the blog, Instagram and Facebook, and therefore get compressed quite far.

Thus, I’m still running with the same RX100 M2. The one I have. Oftentimes, literally running.

Until it completely breaks down, when I have no idea what I’ll do then.

Suunto Coaching

Suunto (Spartan) Coaching: Suunto Spartan (Ultra) Manual/How-to

You spent a few hundred on a shiny new sports watch, you’ll probably want to use it to the best of its, and your, abilities.

After my Suunto Ambit3 “manual”, I’m starting to produce the same kind of manual / how-to for the Suunto Spartan (Ultra) – only better.

If you’re here just for quick help with (a) Spartan functionality, just continue below. If you have further questions, just put them in the comments (I can’t tell you what’s coming next, though, only Suunto could do that).

Gerald Zhang-Schmidt’s Suunto Coaching ;)

If you gain some value from all that here and want to support me, I’d appreciate it, whether you PayPal something or use affiliate links of mine (which are in the footer).

If you want further support and advice, either having questions about a Suunto Spartan (or Ambit or Traverse) or in the form of coaching, you can contact and pay me via my email for quick questions or get in touch to hire me as outright coach.

For true coaching in your running career and not just (but also) with a Suunto, I have a limited introductory offer of €100/month for training planning, weekly check-ins, and support via the Movescount coaching feature and a private Facebook group.

The Suunto Spartan (Ultra) Manual / How-To

New content added… whenever there’s something to add and/or I get something more done. Follow me on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter for #GetAtHome news, including those.

Introductory Remarks

After a few months of the Suunto Spartan out in the wild, getting stronger, it is time to have a look at the way it works.

I startd this manual/how-to with firmware 1.7.30, in March 2017, and will add to it as new firmware and features become available. Next up, it will continue with firmware 1.8.26 which has just been released (with a staggered rollout on March 30, 2017, for some, April 3, 2017, for all that remain.

I’m working with a Spartan Ultra with (Suunto Movesense) HR belt, so there are some differences between that and the Sport version(s).

Namely, the Sport models do not have barometric pressure/altitude measurement; the just-released (again March 30, 2017) Sport WHR model has an optical (wrist) heart rate sensor and uses it not only to replace a HR belt (if so desired) but also for a 24/7 HR and calorie tracking.

01: Know This About the Display

Something I feel should be explained, seeing how people complain why the display does not remain in their chosen look but goes into a simplified display: it’s still not a smartwatch, a Spartan is a sports watch.

So, Suunto optimizes for battery life.

I already had that feeling from the beginning; firmware 1.8.26 introduced two new power-saving features (for exercise mode) which make that impression a fact: low-color display and display timeout. (I’ll add videos on those in a bit.)

02: How to Pair the HR Belt

03: How to Connect Spartan and Movescount App

04: Where to Enter Body Metrics

… and why you should not forget about them.

05: Exercise Mode in Practice: Cycling

What the (basic) cycling exercise mode looks like, in practice, from the start display (and the options currently offered there) to the summary after the finish.

One thing I forgot here: The cycling (basic) mode is actually also set up to use autolaps, only that they are at 10 km.

06: Exercise Mode in Practice: Running

Same as for cycling, but this time a look at the running (basic) exercise mode, in practice, as pre-set up by Suunto…

07: How to Do a (Manual) Multisport Exercise

A triathlon multisport mode is set up right from the start, but you won’t see its use from me anytime soon. You might want to combine any sports into one multisport exercise, though – and here’s how you can do that. And why you might not want to…

08: The Logbook in the Suunto Spartan

One place to remind yourself of what you did, exercise-wise (until the next update comes along and wipes it): the logbook in the watch. Here’s where to find it and what it shows…

09: The Activity View and Training Summary in the Suunto Spartan

It’s not just the detailed data in the logbook (or the data on Movescount, where it all ends up stored and analyzed) where you could check how active you’ve been, there is also the Activity view and the Training Summary.

Activity view gives you your daily (total) steps and calories burned, or a 7-day overview of the two factors. Here, you can also set your step goal and your (active) calories-burnt goal.

Training summary shows you summary data for the (up to four) types of sport you have performed most, with either distance or duration displayed. Swipe left to get to summary details for each of these types of sports. Swipe right to get to your planned training (if you set it up on Movescount).

10: How Movescount Displays the Exercise Data

We will need to have a more in-depth look at Movescount and how to best use Movescount in a separate post, later on, but I already want to show how Suunto’s online platform displays the data.

The exercises used in this video are the same recorded in videos #05-07, i.e. cycling, running, and a combination of running and cycling into a (manual) multisport exercise.

11: How to Save Your Location as a POI

One way of setting up a POI (like Home or a campsite): You save the location (coordinates) you are at as a POI.

Finally, the Spartan *does* display location.

12: How to Create a POI in Movescount

You probably won’t just want to save your location as a POI, you’ll also want to set up locations you want to go to as POI. Which you can do in Movescount – if you can find where:

13: How the Spartan Shows POI Navigation Data

When you check out POI that you’ve stored on or synced to your Spartan, and when you activate the navigation to them, these are the screens you get…

14: How POI Navigation on the Spartan Works in Practice

The screens/data displays above are nice, but you should also know how the navigation to a POI works when on the move.

This is rather important because the Spartan (like the Ambit, actually) changes between using the compass (when you are standing still) and using the GPS (when you are moving) for navigation to a POI. And the navigation displays look and behave a bit differently, depending on whether compass or GPS are being used…

Still being continued ;)

Arc’teryx Veilance Pants of Summer: Align and Voronoi

Last year, making some regular money again and with a view towards a summer trip to China (to celebrate our wedding there, with the Chinese family, finally…), I decided to spring for Arc’teryx Veilance’s Voronoi pants in their light summer version.

These Voronoi pants have been changed from their earlier cotton-nylon material, which seemed the same as the material used in the cargo pants that simply disintegrated with use, to a ‘plainer’ nylon as is also used for the Blazer LT.

(Arc’teryx describes it as “Stretch woven plain weave: 94% nylon, 6% elastane”)

I’d had the earlier Cargo Pants (and Voronoi), and they put me off Veilance pants just as the Spec pants had left me interested in them.

(Whenever I travel into cities or mountains in the cold, it’s still the Spec pants with their windstopper material and on-thigh cargo pockets I happily unpack and use.)

Then I got a Blazer LT in black (and another one from an outlet in Sand color) for the summer and liked that material enough to want to see about the Voronoi in the same fabric.

Veilance Voronoi Pant

These pants, surprisingly enough considering the issues I’d had with both the material and the cut of the earlier ones, turned out just about perfect for my needs and wants.

They are very light and quick-drying, but also durable, meaning that it is no problem to wear them in the heat and humidity of Southern China’s summers, look good, and be pretty comfortable.

With their peculiar pattern and cut, they are not your ordinary pair of pants, but the peculiarity (and luxury, considering the price) of them is nicely hidden in the details; there is nothing that would scream “special” to the person who doesn’t already know what they are seeing.

Unlike other recent Veilance pants, these Voronoi are not cut so tight (“tapered”) in the lower leg that a runner like me can’t fit, let alone lift his knee, in them anymore.

The pocket configuration here is ordinary, if integrated nicely into the special cut pattern, not giving quite the technical menswear versatility I would have liked, but fitting into a normal “technical apparel” wardrobe all the better for it.

All around good, then – and you can still/again get them this spring/summer season.

Veilance Align Pant

Spring/summer 2017, Arc’teryx released a new version of thei Align pants, with a rather more special (seemingly) cargo pocket-inspired design, too.

I thought I might really like that, but there was also yet another of the cotton-nylon blends similar to the dangerous first generation Voronoi and/or Cargo Pants…

It seemed a gamble, but I thought I’d try; the return policy is good enough.

Well, as you can see and hear in my review video, here Veilance experimented far too badly again, in my opinion:

The material might be more durable this time around, or it might not be, but they definitely only work for you if you have very thin lower legs and do not mind sitting on almost anything you put into the cargo/back pockets.

Not for me.

Let’s see now.

I still have the oldest pair of Thunderbolt Sportswear’s softshell jeans in all of Europe, probably, a MarkII version of those, the Spec and Voronoi pants… and there are quite a few technical menswear specialists around, so I should either do with what I have now, or check out something from another brand.

Recommendations? Wishes?

Black Yak Combat Shirt Zipper Pull

Black Yak Performance, as per the Combat Shirt

a.k.a., A Review of the Black Yak Combat Shirt and Notes on My Fascination with this Brand

I have mentioned Black Yak some times before, but it is only now that I really want to talk about them.
About a product of theirs, the Combat Shirt, and the fascination this company provides in the world of technical / performance clothing…

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ISPO 2017 Roundup, Part 1: Garmin, Casio, TomTom, AxSys,…

Once again, the ISPO Munich was on.

Finally, I went there not just a random blogger who sorta-kinda works with brands willing to set him up with product samples, but as someone turning into a pro blogger looking for serious cooperations.

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