In the past month or so I finally started to ride my bike a bit more. I thought it’s about time to do some more movement and to take advantage of the summer, which won’t last for much longer now. So whenever I went to Munich I just put the bike in the car and I took it with me. And whenever the weather was nice, I would just go riding after work for 1-2 hours or so.
Munich is a city where the infrastructure is excellent for riding a bike. There are bike tracks almost everywhere on the roads and sidewalks. And in addition to that, there is the Isar river which goes through the city. On its banks there are bike paths all over the place, paved or gravel, so you can ride all day long if you want.
That is where I did most of my riding. My hotel is somewhere at the east city limit so I would just ride to the Isar (only 15 minutes away) and then I would just go either north or south along the Isar. And of course, I would always have my camera with me because the whole area is just beautiful. Just see for yourself, some of the pictures I made along the river:
I also thought it would be a good idea to track my rides and since my N85 has a GPS unit inside there is an easy solution for this. Nokia used to have a beta program called Sports tracker, a small application which would run on your phone and it would record your route, along with stats like speed, altitude, distance, etc. The program was discontinued but recently a new company picked it up and improved it a lot. The application itself has been improved and a new service was launched at http://www.sports-tracker.com. The routes tracked on your phone can be uploaded to the service and then you can view it on the website on a map with all kind of interesting statistics. The pictures you take with your phone during the ride can be also uploaded, so whoever looks at the website can see what it was like.
And the nice thing is, all this is free. The company makes their money by selling a heart rate transmitter belt which you can pair with your phone over bluetooth. Then the program can also record info about your heart beat which allows you to train more efficiently. While nice to have, it’s somewhat expensive and nobody forces you to buy it.
The program is of course not only for riding but for all kind of other workouts: walking, running, skying, working indoors, etc. For example, you can see what one of my typical ride looks like.
Ever since I started to “aggregate” my gadgets, my Nokia N85 plays the role of a phone, organizer, camera and of course, MP3 player. The phone comes with its own headphones but they are not stellar.
So far I didn’t pay too much attention to the headphones I used but this time the headphones were particularly shitty so I said enough is enough. I didn’t want to spend a fortune but I wanted something good so after some searching and researching I bought a pair of in-ear headphones from Sennheiser, the CX 300. Sennheiser is a private German company which is well known for their high-quality headphones.
This is the first time I own a pair of in-ear headphones and I must say the difference is unbelievable. The sound quality is superb, excellent fit (they come with 3 sizes of ear pieces) and they have a high attenuation of ambient noise. Highly recommended.
Since I didn’t really plan to cancel my Vodafone subscription, I took advantage of this “contract extension” offer they had and upgraded my mobile phone to a Nokia N85. I also upgraded my subscription to Vodafone SuperFlat Internet, which is more or less what I was already paying so far for my previous plan anyway. The change is that now you have “flatrate” internet. It’s not exactly a real flatrate, after 1GB monthly traffic they throttle your connection down to 64kbps, but it’s more then enough for my needs.
Of course, you can’t get the N85 for 1 euro, like other mobile phones included in subscriptions, but overall the price was decent. This went into the “Christmas present” category, so I guess that’s it for this year ;-)
That’s the phone, images taken from Nokia’s website since I didn’t get to take my own pictures. It’s a slider phone and I had some reservations about this but I thought I’d try it anyway. It’s a pretty big difference compared to my previous Nokia E51. I won’t list all the features because you can easily view them all on Nokia’s website but 3 features impressed me the most.
One is the Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED) display which has to be seen to be believed. The next one is USB Charging (less cables = good !) and the last one is the built-in accelerometer. Overall I am pretty pleased with it. Of course, as with any new gadget there are little quirks but I am still deciding whether I should whine about them or just accept them and find workarounds. Time will tell!
Now let’s talk about failed gadgets, because there are some of those too. My Plantronics Voyager 520 bluetooth headset had a small mishap, the rubber thingy which goes around the ear detached itself. The headset still being under warranty, I just opened a case on Plantronics website and requested a new one. I just had to send the broken one to them (they paid for the shipping) and 10 days latter I had a brand new headset. Plantronics has excellent support.
The next failed gadget is not mine. The display of Freya’s cute little Nokia 5310 phone gave up. The phone itself seemed to be working but the screen was blank. Since it was still under warranty I just took it to the nearest Nokia Care center. Initially the guy said it will be fixed in 3 hours but he kinda under estimated the problem. Still, after 3 days I got an SMS from them saying that it’s repaired and that I can pick it up. I hope that’s the case, I will check on friday when I am back home.
No, it’s not mine, it’s Freya’s new mobile phone. It was a “gift” of sorts from Phonehouse, the company through which we both have our Vodafone subscriptions. They had a special offer for existing customers (in this case the phone was about 100 € cheaper than on the market), the only condition was the contract extension with another 24 months, which we would’ve done anyway so why not ?
It’s a Nokia 5310 XpressMusic and it looks very cute. It’s small, thin, extremely light at 71g with batery (quite a change from her old Nokia 6233 at 241g) and it has pretty much everything you need: bluetooth, camera, video/audio player, microSD card, USB, etc. I like it ;-)
About a year ago when I signed up for my subscription via Phonehouse, they did all kind of crap to me (wrong roaming invoices, delayed activation for my data plan, slow replies to my letters, etc) so I just got pissed off at one time and sent them a cancellation letter. Meanwhile the problems got solved but I forgot about the letter. Couple of months ago they called me and offered a 250 € voucher if I stay with them, which I would’ve done anyway so I accepted. I was pleasantly surprised, I have to admit.