I’ve come to the point where I’m not acquiring tech in a regular interval (I used to get something new every few months) but I think I’ve stabilized on just a few different platforms rather than trying new things out. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the entire family is locked into the Apple Eco system when it comes to mobile devices (iPhones and iPads) but we’re not upgrading as fast as I used to. The family has an iPhone 7,8, and 6S Plus as well as 2 iPad Pro’s from 2017 and a newer iPad mini 5. That keeps things pretty simple in terms of getting apps and support and also reducing the complexity for syncing phones with music and videos. I personally use a MacBook Pro at home (very little though since my iPad Pro pretty much can do a lot of the things that I normally used my MacBook for)
I am becoming a little less reliant on computers in general (the traditional kind) and have simplified the things that I install and try to keep things vanilla. I still buy my computers with massive hard drives (at least 1TB and on SSD for speed). Thats just my old school thoughts on storage for computers but a lot of my audio and video files have moved over to the NAS and the NAS runs 24×7 unless I shut it down. I’ve also embraced more cloud storage with my main cloud storage providers being Box and Google Drive. I have more than enough storage in both accounts that I don’t have to keep a lot of “stuff” on my laptop. My MacBook Pro is a 2017 and its maxed to the gills but I don’t use nearly all the power that I could since I was originally going to use it for videos for the family but I’ve been able to do that on my iPad.
I’ve also consolidated my camera platform to just using my iPhones and GoPro’s. I don’t know how long GoPro is going to be around but they are pretty solid and they do what I need when I go on vacation. I haven’t bought a GoPro since 2018 but it does what I need it to do and the image stabilization is wonderful. It’s not as fast as a point and shoot camera but its good enough for what I need for it to do. All other devices have kind of fallen away. I still watch lots of videos about different kinds of hardware that seem cool, especially about Android phones like the OnePlus stuff but when I consider the ecosystem I’m in, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to switch over.
The last reason that I don’t have a lot of tech to talk about these days is that I’m just hanging on to my stuff a lot longer. I’m still sporting an iPhone 7, it still seems to work pretty well and it hasn’t slowed down. I’m not really missing any feature that I consider “must haves”. The only thing that I’m really waiting for is 5G capability but I think those will come with the 2020 iPhones so I’m going to skip this generation again. The GoPro Hero 7 Black is good enough the way it is, its just really there to take videos during my ski trips and for soccer games but I think I start using it as a point and shoot too which would be cool. I have lots of extra batteries for it too so I know its going to last a while during the day. iPads will last a while too as long as there are software updates, again nothing really earth shattering that I need. They all work with the first generation Apple Pencil and frankly it works great, I don’t see a need to get a whole new iPad just for the Apple Pencil 2.
Maybe in the next few months I’ll find something compelling enough to upgrade to but in the mean time, I’ll have to look for something else to blog about.
The frame that holds my GoPro Hero 7 Black recently broke when I was trying to put the camera in it. I would have thought these things would be way more durable. I haven’t even had the camera for a year and already I’ve had to buy a replacement part. I bought a cheap one on Amazon that is compatible. It doesn’t provide as much protection all the way around but it does let me charge the thing without having to take the mount off which is a huge plus in my book.
So I lose the cool Black 7 on the side of the mount. The camera has had some other problems that I think are software related. It won’t accept all my voice commands and sometimes the camera freezes while recording. It might be due to my taking the camera to cold climates all the time to record skiing or other stuff. I would have thought the camera would be more durable and be able to resist the cold. I think it would be awesome if they would upgrade the Hero Session. I still have my Hero Session 4 and the only thing that I really want for it is image stabilization similar to the Hero 7 Black and the voice controls. I know there is a Hero Session 5 but the camera is old and could use an update. That thing was really versatile and would be perfect for my daughter to use on vacation.
Oh well, I need to accumulate more points to get my next GoPro. This one was free with all my Amex points so it breaking or freezing isn’t a big deal since I technically didn’t even pay for it.
If there’s one thing that helps me ski better (at least in my crazy cranium) its having music while I go down the slope. When I was younger this wasn’t very practical because its hard to bring a Sony Discman in your ski jacket and not have the songs skip while you’re shredding down a mountain. More recently in the last 2 years I’ve taken to using my iPhone to listen to music. I find that listening to music while going down the slope makes it more enjoyable and since I ski alone a lot its better than just skiing in silence.
I already have AirPods for my iPhone but I’ve found that they aren’t that great when you want to listen to music while skiing. I think the newer v2 AirPods would be better than my current ones since it has built in “Hey Siri” but you’ll get some crazy stares from people on the chairlift by yelling “Hey Siri!” to change the volume, playlist or song. I also have this fear that my AirPods will fall out of my ears and since they’re white, I’ll never find them again in the snow. I also wear a helmet so using my Bose QC35’s are also not an option. I need to hear the environment around me since there are definitely a lot better skiers and boarders out there passing me and I need to hear when they say they are coming up behind me. The solution that I’ve found the best is actually the EarPods that came with my iPhone in the box. Yes its archaic since its wired but it has a control on it so that I can change the music, pick up phone calls, and change the volume all without having to yell at Siri. I’m able to wear them ok with my helmet on, I still have the feeling that they’re going to pop out of my ears but at least I know its tethered to my iPhone that’s in my ski pants pocket so the probability of losing them is pretty low. They sound decently good and it lets me hear what’s going on around me so both of those requirements are met easily.
A few people at Vail used a different solution. They decided to use the UE Wonderboom to play their music. The problem with that is most people don’t want to hear my crazy music while they ski. They want to either listen to their own tunes or just ski in silence. Granted it was a bunch of teenagers that was blasting Post Malone on the lift up to the top but I could have done with out. I did see one woman on the slopes go all out on the expensive gear for having music and call capability for her ski helmet by using a Sena bluetooth system. I have one of those for my motorcycle helmet and they’re not cheap; around $200. The sound is pretty good and it gets loud but that might be a little too much for skiing. I have considered it though but its too much trouble to disconnect everything from my motorcycle helmet and then putting it in my ski helmet.
If there has been one gripe I have with skiing its that its really hard on my feet. I have plantar fasciitis which means that the muscle that connects the bottom of my foot is normally really tight and causes me problems when doing things on my feet for long periods of time. Skiing is one of those sports that require you to be on your feet a lot but I love the sport and don’t want to give it up. Since I started skiing again, I’ve been renting the whole ski package; boots, poles, and skis. While in Breckenridge last season, my wife convinced me that we should get our own ski boots. We saw the Surefoot store in town and decided to check it out and see what they could do about custom fitting some boots for us.
Surefoot takes measurements of your feet and selects a boot that will probably be your best fit. That sounds pretty common except they craft inserts for the bottom of the boot so that it fits your feet better which is what I do now with my shoe inserts for all of my other shoes. As an additional step, they pump in foam while you are wearing the boot so that the inner liner conforms to your foot for a better fit. The whole process took a while since there were two of us doing it. Whats cool is that for the next 2 years I’m allowed to get adjustments or new boots if the fit isn’t just right.
I skied a little bit of Breckenridge and Whistler with these boots and they felt better than the rentals except for an issue I was having on my left foot. It felt like the injection foam wasn’t right. When I went to Vail this spring I decided to go to Surefoot to get an adjustment. It turns out that it was just the crease in the inner part of the boot just needed to be smoothed out. After that was done the boots felt great for the rest of the trip. These are easily the best boots that I’ve had compared to the rental boots that I’ve had and the other boots that I’ve owned.
I recall that I used to use some Solomon rear entry boots back in the 90’s that were really popular back then. There were two adjustment knobs on the boot to manage the fit and only one buckle. I guess the industry thought that wasn’t good enough and most of the boots went towards front entry. I had some Nordic’s after that but they never really felt right but its what I had. The Lange RX 100’s that I have now are pretty comfortable except for the the first couple of runs where my feet need to get used to being trapped in a ski boot. As the day wears on, I try and tighten my boots a little bit more so that I can ski the harder slopes and to get more control of my skis. Now the issue I have is transporting these things everywhere I go. They require their own checked luggage for me to bring them skiing which is unfortunate but I definitely need them.
One boot that definitely intrigues me is the XP Antero. Instead of being a regular ski boot, its actually an eco-skeleton that you put something similar to a snowboard boot into. Snowboard boots are way more comfortable than ski boots for sure. The premise is to release yourself from the exoskeleton and then you should be able to walk around in a nice comfortable boot for when you’re having lunch at the ski lodge. Unfortunately I just found this boot and I paid a lot of the boots that I have already. When its time for me to upgrade my boots I might consider this system. If the boots are interchangeable with snowboard bindings I might just take up snowboarding too so I can snowboard with my daughter. In the mean time, the Lange’s are my new best friend for skiing.
My new family vacation schedule has us going from Epic Mix mountain to Epic Mix mountain. In the winter we went to Whistler and Blackcomb mountain in Canada but this spring we decided to tackle Vail. We booked Vail because we saw some deal on the lodging and we just jumped at it. We decided to stay at The Lodge at Vail which is in Vail Village. There are 3 base areas and the two that we frequented the most was Vail Village and Golden Peak (for snowboard school). There was another base area called Lionshead but we didn’t go there till the last day and man was it posh as hell. I don’t think I could have afforded to stay there for the week we did at Vail Village.
Anyway, on to the mountain! The mountain is pretty big with 2 gondolas and tons of chair lifts. I would say that the mountain is a little on the hard side but only because its so difficult to get to a warm up slope from Vail Village. I didn’t find a place to warm up in the morning until I was there for about 3 days. I still like to warm up on a green or two before starting harder slopes but the only one that would fit the bill from a base area is called Gopher Hill by Golden Peak. That was a nice bunny run but man it was hard to get to since you had to carry your skis all the way there. What I did find was the green slopes but they were all the way at the top of the mountain so you had to take 3 lifts to get there. Thats a little excessive but if you’re experienced its alright. If you’re a pure beginner it can be a little intimidating to try and get there.
I tried out most of the groomed side of the mountain. I even challenged myself and did some diamonds which I haven’t really done in about 20 years since the family only recently started skiing again 2 years ago. I did maybe 4 total black diamond trails which isn’t bad considering my meager skills in skiing these days. I blame my daughter for taking me on 2 of them since she wanted to try and do them with me on her snowboard. I didn’t go to the backside of the mountain, mainly because there were warning signs that indicated that you should ski with a buddy in the back bowls and I was mostly on my own so I tried to stick to the groomed trails. I did find one blue run that I really liked that went from the peak down to the mid mountain lodge area. I used my Epic Mix app and I think in a single day I went up the same life a dozen times just to go down that slope. I think one of the hardest parts was all the “walkway” trails. These were the green trails that sort of switch backed across blues and blacks and were relatively flat so that you could ski from the top of the mountain to the bottom without having to throw yourself down a difficult slope. A lot of these trails required a little bit of “walking” and when it started to get past mid day, those trails were a killer since the snow was turning into slush. I found that the best way to enjoy Vail this time was to go as early as possible and get on the trails before anyone else. The groomed slopes were nice, since the slush froze over during the evening, the grooming machines kind of broke it up a bit and smoothed it out so that you’re not skiing on ice pebbles all the way down.
What would make the mountain better would probably be an extension of the gondolas so that they went all the way to the top of the mountain rather than having to transfer to a chair life to get to the top. Probably a gondola on the back bowls would be helpful too but all that investment is expensive and Vail Resorts has been too busy buying up property to expand the offerings of the Epic Pass. I’m all for expansion of the Epic Pass since that gives me more options to ski elsewhere on the same pass. I’m sure they’ll do some investment soon, its not like the lifts couldn’t handle the crowds, I don’t think I even really waited in line to get up the mountain the entire time I was there. Most of the time I would just ski down into the line and just hop onto the next chair and rarely on a 6 person chairlift were there 6 people on it.
Vail Village was pretty nice as well, its not up to par when I compare it to the Olympic Village of Whistler but its definitely up there in terms of high end shops and places to eat. We avoided most of those places though, we were there to ski and snowboard, not shop and eat gourmet food. We didn’t hit the really posh area of Vail until we went to Lionshead Village. There were even more high end shops there as well as hotels. There was also a really awesome playground that my daughter enjoyed that looked like elevated teepees. We didn’t venture far from Vail Village, everything we needed was pretty much in the village and we did our shopping beforehand.
We are considering another visit to the area but this time to conquer Beaver Creek which is apparently pretty close to Vail. I guess thats why the ski instructor jackets all had Vail and Beaver Creek logos on them. I would definitely return to Vail again, just so that I can conquer some other parts of the mountain or maybe even ski the back bowls.
I’ve been taking a lot more video on the GoPro of late and there is even video that I haven’t even moved over to Google Photos yet and I’ve been struggling to find a good solution on how to upload all those videos without keeping my MacBook Pro on all night. Recently I upgraded my NAS (I blogged about it before) and now I have a ton of extra space on there. With that extra space and the RAM upgrade I was able to install a virtual machine. I chose Ubuntu Linux primarily because it was free and I had dabbled with it in the past. I had all these videos from Breckenridge on an external drive and the old way that I uploaded video was to mount the drive on the MacBook, go to Google Photos on the web, and then do a drag and drop. Since a lot of those videos are pretty big, it would take a long time for it to upload, sometimes days I’d leave that thing on.
Given that I have all this extra storage space, I thought, why not load the videos on the NAS and then fire up the VM and see if I can do it that way? The loading of the videos was only slightly problematic since my external drive is formatted for Mac and it can’t be read by my NAS when I plug it in directly. That forced me to transfer the video using the Mac to the NAS, that was fairly easy and quick. Only took 10 minutes for about 300GB which is fairly fast. The next part was a tad more difficult. I was familiar with mapping drives and everything with Windows but not Linux. Thankfully the GUI interface for Ubuntu is pretty easy and it saw my NAS as a network drive.
Let me just start out saying that the performance on the VM is pretty shitty when you’re using a browser to navigate. I think it would be way more responsive if I used it directly on a monitor but I don’t have the right plugs currently since its an older monitor that uses DVI and not HDMI. I got Google Photos up on Firefox in Ubuntu and started loading the photos and videos. Unfortunately I kept on getting script errors on the page (no clue why that was) but after rebooting the VM and starting over it seemed to be working for uploading the files. Given that the interface was really really slow I wasn’t able to put them in an album after the upload was complete. I was however able to leave the VM running while I went out to the movies and was able to close out of the browser tab with the VM and come back to it hours later.
After this experiment I think I have found at least my best way of getting all the videos from my trips up to Google Photos. instead of loading all the photos and video on my iPad for my next trip, I think I’m just going to leave it on my GoPro and wait until I get home to start reviewing and making combined videos. I don’t want to take a computer with me, just my iPad but transferring all that stuff is also a pain in the ass and I’d like to relax a bit more this trip.
I decided to take my yearly ride out to Dania Beach since I had the time this weekend for a longer ride than normal. It wasn’t the sunniest of days but it was good to ride out there just to change things up a bit. I have this normal spot where I like to just rest of a little bit before I head back home. Normally there is a bench for me to sit on so that I can just mellow out and watch the waves crash against the shore.
Today was a little bit different, I didn’t see my usual bench that I use and there were signs saying that no one was allowed on the beach. I also noticed that there was a ton of erosion too. Normally the beach is decently flat all the way to the water but there looks like there is a decent drop off due to erosion in the past year. Its a shame that there is this much erosion, no one can enjoy the beach and they took away my bench so I couldn’t even take a little break to watch the waves.
I decided to just take a picture here and there like always and just hopped on my bike and went home. There are a lot of new homes in the area but they look over the river that’s close by. I’m sure those homes cost a ton of money and they’re nice and new. I don’t want to get one, they’re in the greatest danger of being flooded.
If I have the opportunity this summer, I’ll go back to Dania Beach. Hopefully they will put my bench back for me. I miss seeing the ocean after my long rides.