New gadgets delivered via FedEx bike and a hop through Turkey

For the first time since being here in France, I noticed that one of our packages actually came by way of a FedEx bike carrier – which is pretty cool:

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And the day of delivery was hardly all nice and sunny either.  Rather, that nasty cold rain that everyone hates.  He was out there trucking through it all on a bike that resembled a trail behind RV.

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He was delivering a box full of items from our mail forwarding service in the US.  For example, the orange Garmin Fenix strap that I ordered back when the product was announced in July.

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This might be a good time to mention that there’s been some good changes in the Fenix since my review was published last week.  Perhaps in response, perhaps already planned.  It’s a good first step, but there are still major items to get addressed before I can recommend it to runners. Specifically: Indoor training options and fixes to GPS-less/satellite-challenged recording, at least some portion of the running-features like workouts, intervals and virtual pacer, and support of the ANT+ footpod.  Adding power meter support might even get my praise.  The rest of the changes they’ve made I’ve outlined and updated in the post.

At any rate, as for the strap…  When it first arrived I thought it was kinda…bright…but now it’s growing on me a bit.

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Looking at other gadgets, last week the BKOOL trainer arrived (I talked about it back at Interbike).  As I’ve previously noted, this one is in the queue behind the LeMond Revolution (or whatever it’s going to be called soon), and the Tacx Genius.

However, I’ve seen a pretty big uptick in requests to get my Trainer Roundup and Recommendations out the door pronto.  I know (and have used) enough about these trainers and their capabilities to be able to give some pretty good direction on which products to choose at which price points.  Should I wait until I finish all in-depth reviews, or go ahead and give you my thoughts now?  I know many are trying to get these bought sooner rather than later – but given my travel schedule over the next two weeks I won’t be able to get enough use on all three in the next three weeks.  Thoughts?

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Next up on my arrivals list was my pair of Revolights.  It looks like they’ve started to make it through their international backers (mine as part of the international lot).

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I had ordered these more than a year ago via Kickstarter, and I’m jazzed they’ve now arrived.  The units illuminate the side of your wheels dynamically to make you more visible, additionally, they also provide forward and backward light.

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They came in on Saturday and I didn’t have a chance to build them up before I left again Sunday.  Rumor is it takes about two hours to install fully (not hard I hear, just tedious).  So I didn’t want to get started half-way and not be able to finish.

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Nonetheless, I’m excited to give you my take on these via an In-Depth review here sometime this month once I get them installed on my Trek around-town bike.

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In addition to DCR goodness, I’ve been working on getting all the Bertie’s CupCakery IT pieces up and running ahead of her opening soon (that, along with my other official duties as Chief Cupcake Tester).  Now to think of it, I’m going to get Bertie’s Cupcakery business cards with my name on it made that say that as the title.  I’m serious.

Obviously, there are many differences between setting up a business in France and the US – and the IT components are just one of those pieces.  I’ve been in the front row to all the other components, but it’s the computer pieces I get to own.

In one respect, you’d think operating a cupcake shop should be simple – and, it probably could be.  We could probably go with a simple non-connected cash register that merely opens and closes and holds cash.  And, like many shops, we could probably even do cash only.  But, we don’t want to.  We want to embrace technology – and all the benefits it brings.  The ability to understand trending, have frequent cupcake rewards programs, online integration and more.

In the US, we’d just use the Square card reader and Register iPad app.  While a bit basic (we’ve done a bunch of testing with it), it would have ultimately worked and kept things simple. Unfortunately, the Square at this time is only available within the US (you can’t change currencies or transaction locales, though, otherwise, it would mostly work for us).

Instead, I’m having fun with other solutions that aren’t quite as well refined, like the below, Vend (VendHQ).  The whole thing runs on an iPad, though integration with the credit card reader isn’t quite as smooth.  This requires the iPad a networked receipt printer, a cash register drawer, a Mac Mini to act as a printing gateway, and a network. Plus, all sorts of things I probably haven’t figured out yet.

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It’s funny to go from my day job of designing massive multimillion dollar datacenters, to a small business solution with a single user that ‘just works’.

Speaking of food related things – we headed back out to the u-pick farm this weekend.  The Girl’s dad was in town, and he enjoys cooking just as much as us.  He also enjoys cycling as he and The Girl spent the last week riding around the vineyards of France.  Below though, an easy stroll with me around the sights in Paris:

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As for the farm, it was raining on Saturday, so we kept it quick out there.  First up was picking up a pumpkin.  Apparently though, the French have a very different method of carving pumpkins than in the US!

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We got one big pumpkin which I’ll make pumpkin pie out of ($4!), though, we neglected to think about getting another one for carving.  Maybe later.  They also had tons of little ones:

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Instead, our focus this time was pretty much exclusively on Zucchini blossoms.  Last night, we picked up about 16 or so I think.  To our surprise, they were sold by weight.  As you can imagine, blossoms don’t weigh very much – and the total bill came to about 80 cents I think (16 blossoms in the US would cost you a fortune at a grocery store, if you could even find them!)

In light of that, and our ability to freeze our creations for eating all winter, we picked a few:

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By a few, I mean…about 70 of them.  Which, came to a whopping total of about $6.  Brilliant!  And, probably only took about 10 minutes.

What was not so brilliant though was having to clean, prep, stuff, dip, roll, dip again and bread 70 of them.  Even with our assembly line, this took a bit of time.

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But we made good time, and before we knew it we were enjoying cooking up a storm.  We had blossoms, plus The Girl made up some Lemon Risotto with Serrano Ham.  And then there was the usual wine – which we paid a whole $4 for.  And it was good (as it almost always is here)!

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The blossoms were stuffed with two types of goat cheese again.  We believe we got the same types – but really, we didn’t keep track of the names.  We simply walked across the street to the cheese shop, picked out some that they recommended for our purposes, and went with it.  Life is simple that way.

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After our dinner Saturday, it was time for everyone to fly away on Sunday.  The Girl’s dad departed back for Newfoundland, meanwhile I jet set in the opposite direction – first for Instanbul in Turkey, and then for South Korea.

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By time you read this, I’ll be about three hours away from landing in Seoul for a few days of meetings.  It’s been a few years since I was here last (last time involved eating those octopus that were alive and moving).  Hopefully this time I can avoid that specific scenario from re-occurring, as well as any sorts of international crises that seem to break out anytime I get near the peninsula.  I promise, it’s usually not me.

I’m sure things will go fine on both fronts.  With that – onwards I go!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and has a great week ahead!

27 Comments

  1. Kel

    Are you using litespeed POS on that iPad there? It looks a lot like what we've used for other customers before

    Reply
  2. Please go ahead and give us your thoughts about trainers now. I must buy a trainer in the next days. Actually I would buy the new powerbeam pro with virtual training, but this trainer is not available. Nowhere. And the availibility is delayed again and again. The former modell is still more expensive and without the training software. You have to buy this for another 300 euros. No way. So I'm toying now with the idea to buy a tacx genius. A good idea?

    Reply
  3. Since you are in France, will you also review the housebrand trainers of Decathlon? Decathlon is a huge sportbrand, in France as well as in Europe. Their bikes (B'Twin) are well known.
    I think a lot of sporters, as myself would love to buy the best trainers, but have to make a choice between a Tacx Santori of 200 euros and a In'ride of 100 euros. I can see in my club that almost everybody wears jerseys of Decathlon, just because price/quality they are very good. But I don't know what's the situation with their more technical/mechanical equipment. As you know you can only spend your money once...
    (link to decathlon.be)

    Reply
  4. Hi, Ray!

    Is this really the orange fenix strap that Garmin is showing on their fenix mini-site? The one on the mini-site is much nicer, I think.

    Reply
  5. I'd say, wait with the trainer review untill you have them all covered.

    Reply
  6. I'd vote for getting your current thoughts on trainers asap. Getting colder & darker at nights here already and thinking of getting a new trainer (I'd probably have already got a power beam pro if they were available).

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Please give us your thoughts on trainers, it gets dark around 19:00 and starts to get cold

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    How about an interim summary review with a full review in time for holiday shopping? Sounds like you have a gut feel for each and could create an initial DC Comparison chart?

    Reply
  9. David

    Hey

    Interim summary on the trainers follwed up by a full review would be great.

    Also, any update on the wahoo kickerrrrrrrrr thingy?

    Reply
  10. trainer review now :)
    Or at least your thoughts on how the current crop compares, so we can plan/make our purchases before indoors is the only riding option!

    thanks.

    Reply
  11. I'm with those saying review/comparison now with more in-depth review later. The temps are dropping fast and I'd like to be able to tell my wife which trainer I'd like before she starts Christmas shopping.

    Reply
  12. I'd say sooner rather than later on that trainer post. You can always go into more detail at a later date if necessary.

    Reply
  13. Ray, I'd love a full review, especially yours since they are the best out there, but it is already freezing here in New England and I will need to make a choice in the next week or two. I am most interested in the Kickrr(?) but open to the best out here. Thanks

    Reply
  14. I am anxiously awaiting your trainer reviews. And while I would like to see your recommendations sooner than later, I am also a research fanatic before I buy anything.

    Reply
  15. Happy runner

    It
    Was
    Cold
    Here
    Today

    I hate cold. Must stay inside.

    Enough said.

    Reply
  16. I would not rush the trainer review, to ensure you have adequate training time with each to give it fair treatment.

    Understanding that your audience is anxious, and given that daylight is waning I'm the northern hemisphere, perhaps you could divide them into blocks. You could provide a Trainer Overview Part 1 and then a Part 2 to complete. That approach is not perfect and also might show favoritism to the first block, but I've no doubt you can do it fairly and openly.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    lets hear about the trainers now...you can always update

    Reply
  18. I would love to get your current thoughts on trainers soon and then see an update if things change. I need to buy one in the next couple of weeks and I want time to price out the best option. Thanks.

    Reply
  19. I agree with the 2 part review idea. Perhaps start with the #1 and #2 recommendations and in part #2 cover the runners up.

    Reply
  20. Well...seems like I'm joining the masses but I would say to break it into two blocks. Given your experience and knowledge if you could give a breakdown with as many thoughts as you can now - with the complete reviews to follow I think that would be best. Maybe give thoughts on the major areas of concern - tech, durability etc but then follow up with each in your typical detailed review style. Maybe include a tentative schedule for each coming review so some folks can wait if they are deciding on something on the horizon?

    Most importantly - thanks for all the info and hard work. I think people mostly want some extra info and opinion from someone we trust. Thanks for helping us make as informed purchases as we can.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    I'm with the majority - getting your current thoughts on trainers asap would be awesome. I'd like to buy something in the next few weeks.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    I agree with the rest. I really want to buy a trainer ASAP and would welcome rays comments ASAP.

    Reply
  23. give me the Forerunner 910xt!

    Reply
  24. A brief run-down would be great. Am looking to purchase in the next 2-3 wks. Thanks for all your time and effort on the reviews, they are excellent.

    Reply
  25. I always enjoy your writing, this is by far my most followed blog. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  26. I'd love to see bike trainer comparisons/reviews as well. Not just for people with more than $1000 budget, but also some entry level trainers as well.

    Reply
  27. Thanks all!

    Barring something unforeseen, it'll be published tomorrow. Working on it right now. My lowest budget recommendation starts at $99.

    Enjoy!

    Reply

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