PocketC.H.I.P. – First Impressions

PocketC.H.I.P.
The new PocketC.H.I.P. by “Next Thing Co.”

FEATURES

  • 4.3″ Resistive touch screen.
  • Full QWERTY keyboard.
  • Removable enclosure and bezel.
  • 3.7-volt LiPo Battery.
  • GPIO Access.
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

APPLICATIONS

  • PICO-8 – Play games, change games, and make games with PICO-8!
  • SunVox – The SunVox tracker is a fully featured music production studio.
  • Linux Terminal – A place to type commands directly to the computer for execution and evaluation by the operating system.
  • Write – Write is a minimalist text editor.
  • File Browser – The File Browser provides a visual representation of the files on your PocketC.H.I.P. using icons.
  • Help – A copy of the documentation from the GetChip Website

I received my backer PocketC.H.I.P. today. My apologies, I was much too excited about it after having used my C.H.I.P. received late last year, to bother with any video of unboxing. Those of you that need unboxing therapy, look elsewhere.

It arrived in a beautifully illustrated cardboard box, shrinkwrapped with my VDA and HDMI adapters, as well as a spare battery. As you can see above, the final version is much nicer than beta versions (change not included, placement to illustrate scale only). As expected, it was running an ARM version of Debian. So naturally, I did the apt-get update & upgrade & dist-upgrade. Then I set about to playing with it.

It shipped with only six programmes (noticeable programmes, that is), and after being briefly entertained by them, I set out to creating the server remote that I intended it to be. I installed putty, filezilla and a few other select monitoring programmes for remoting in to my various servers for Who Inc. so that I could pretend that I had a necessary, real world application for this baby.

To be honest, it’s a bit clunkier than I would like. Though the website has various illustrations of the machine in use, nothing really prepares you for its size, or for its weight. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, it just is unexpected. It’s a kind of hybrid between a phone and a tablet, but with the benefit of being a full Linux operating system. All of the commands that you have come to know and love function. If you’re used to Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc. you’ll feel right at home with one of these. One of the biggest downers is size of available space, but again, as this is full Linux, that’s a simple matter of sticking a low profile thumb drive into the available USB and creating /home2.

To do this:

  • /sbin/fdisk -l  This tells you your available storage devices with detailed info so you can determine which drive is which by /dev
  • sbin/fdisk /dev/sda This allows you to create a partition on /dev/sda (most likely the secondary thumb device as the primary drive appears to be hidden by the system) after which you will enter the following at the prompt: “n” for new partion, “p” for primary partition, “1” for the first partition (it may tell you that 1 is not available, and give you options beginning with 2), “Enter” for the first AND last cylinders (to make this partition use the entire disk) and finally “w” to save your changes. That has created and saved new partition and it will be called /dev/sda1 (first partition on /dev/sda). The next step is to format it.
  • ext4/4 /dev/sda1 – Choose either ext3 or ext4 – this does the basic format of your thumb drive.
  • Finally, to make it an extension of your /home that came installed on the C.H.I.P., mkdir /home2 followed by mount /dev/sda1 /home2. To make sure that this device will auto mount when you start up your PocketC.H.I.P., use mount -a.

Now that this step is complete, you are able to save files as large as your external storage can handle, as well as install a great deal more programmes, which for me, was an absolute necessity.

My biggest complaint about the PocketC.H.I.P. was not the large size or unexpected weight however; as they did a great job with the contour and counterbalance with the shape of the casing… no, my biggest complaint is the keyboard. I am operating, of course, with the understanding that this is essentially a baseline keyboard which is provided as a bonus for what is essentially a builder computer like the Raspberry Pi. But the keyboard, while nicely configured and familiar, lacked responsiveness. I found myself going back several times to press harder to get a letter to take, or backspacing for a letter that received multiple input though only pressed once. If you can live with that, and I can, then this will be an amazing and useful piece of tech for you to have.

Regardless of its size, it still fits comfortably into a standard back pocket. Its extra features such as a touch screen make it much more enjoyable to use. The screen is sharp and bright. All in all, I’m extremely satisfied with the outcome, and both happy and proud to have backed this fantastic innovation.

P.S. – If you do get one, it does NOT come with a web browser. This is simple to remedy. If you like text browsers, use sudo apt-get install lynx. If you prefer a modern browser, use sudo apt-get install iceweasel. Neither Firefox nor Chrome have a release that will install on this unit out of the box, and Chromium gives the “no release candidate available” reply. Iceweasel is clunky on this device to say the least, and you absolutely MUST use a stylus to get anything done with it. But for the power of a full Linux in the pocket, I’m not complaining. I also highly recommend installing aptitude (sudo apt-get install aptitude) and using it in place of apt-get for automatic resolution of dependencies when installing software.

ZEAL For Life – Tropic Dream Review

DISCLAIMER: Results will vary by individual. We are all different, and our chemistry reacts differently to different things. My review is scientific, but not medical, nor am I a medical professional. This review discusses my thoughts on ZEAL For Life by Zurvita, and the effect or lack thereof that I observed on my energy and focus while testing the product.

ZEAL for Life by Zurvita, Focus and Energy Drink Mixes. Bold Grape, Tropic Dream and Wild Berry Flavours.

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about ZEAL For Life by Zurvita, and since a friend had some samples, I decided to give it a go. The flavour that I was provided for testing was Tropic Dream. I was really quite excited. Prior to testing, I went all day (until after 5PM CST) without coffee, to measure against the day that I would test the product which I would also be doing without coffee. On the day that I went without coffee during the day, I took my vitals for comparison at different intervals throughout the day. The results were fairly consistent throughout the day with an average resting heart rate of eighty (80) and an exercise rate of one hundred twenty eight (128). My blood pressure was one hundred thirty two over eighty (132/80) and my respiration per minute averaged eighteen. While waiting for the test to begin, I decided to examine the bottle and their website to see all of their fantastic claims. One of the first things I noticed is that right on the bottom it states that the drink mix is gluten free, vegan, and surprisingly, “Kosher”. This caught my interest, so I did some looking. Nowhere on the bottle did I find any sort of hechsher at all.  I looked for any of the familiar Kashruth supervisory or endorsement markings. I found none. So naturally, I took to their web site. There also, I came up empty. The only thing that even came close to touching on Kashruth was found in their FAQ.

Q: Does Zeal Wellness contain any shellfish? A: Zeal Wellness does not contain shellfish or shellfish by-products. However, please be aware that Zeal Wellness contains many different individual ingredients and some of those ingredients may be processed in a facility that also processes shellfish.

Flabbergasted as to why they would avoid giving a supervisory mark, I turned to their fact sheets. There, as shown below, I did find an OU certification on their fact sheet. Bingo! We have a hechsher!

z1

I went through their ingredient list on their web site to be certain, and enjoyed reading the write up that they have on each ingredient that I couldn’t pronounce if I tried for a month. After reading what each individual ingredient is supposed to do, and how it is supposed to work/react in/with your body, I was more excited than ever to try this wonder drink.

The following claims are made by the makers of ZEAL For Life:

The Zeal blend:

  • boosts your energy*
  • optimizes your health*
  • enriches, restores and protects your body*
  • helps maintain a healthy weight

Zurvita’s Zeal for Life combines many of the most powerful nutritional components available today into a single, delicious, real-food product. Recognized as what’s called a “functional food,” Zeal transcends the role of many supplements, and provides the body with the food-based nutritional components it needs in a more fundamental form.

The results? You can feel more vibrant and energetic, fueling a life of real purpose and significance.

It includes:

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • antioxidants
  • amino acids
  • micronutrients
  • phytonutrients and more!

Zeals’ balanced nutrition can be a foundational support to good health, proper energy levels and successful weight management.

For this evaluation, as I have not used it long term, nor do I have the proper supply necessary to do so, I tested only the effects on energy and focus.  I did not evaluate in any way the following claims, and can make no statement in regard to their effectiveness, or lack thereof:

  • optimizes your health* – Not evaluated by the FDA
  • enriches, restores and protects your body* – Not evaluated by the FDA
  • helps maintain a healthy weight

 

Preparation was simple. I removed the plastic wrap from the lid, inserted a piece of ice (at a friends suggestion) to help mix, and filled with water. I replaced the cap and shook vigorously. After drinking the solution, I noted that a great deal of powder remained, so I added a small amount of water, shook again and finished it off. The odour was similar to that of orange juice, so that wasn’t off putting. As far as flavour, it highly resembled a pomegranate flavoured five hour energy drink, with an ever so slight hint of sawdust. It went down easy enough, there was no gag reflex, and it was actually quite good.

Now, on to the actual test itself!

Results before and during the test.
Results before and during the test.

I’m not a phlebotomist, nor do I have the equipment, so I am unable to provide any sort of a blood test or results of chemical composition, increase or decrease etc. I can only give the data above. As you can see, my exercise rate remained fairly constant. My Beats per Minute jumped eight (8) points in the first ten (10) minutes I presume that is the small amount of caffeine hitting my system. It then drops two (2) points and increases again at an hour. Likewise, my systolic pressure takes a bit of a leap at ten (10) and at thirty (30). My Respiration remained fairly constant, though elevated. As far as actual focus or energy, I was fairly disappointed. I felt no difference, whatsoever. In fact, by the thirty (30) minute mark, I was actually getting more sluggish. I reviewed the recordings of myself after as well, to see if there was a noteworthy change in demeanor, and saw that between the thirty (30) and sixty (60) minute marks, I actually nodded off a couple of times.

In closing, this “Energy” Drink may well work for others, but in my controlled testing, it was an extreme disappointment. It may work over long term use, but in terms of energy drink use (one use for immediate results) it failed miserably. I was afraid that the “placebo effect” from all of the hype of friends and commercials may skew my results, but I can safely say there was no external influence to these results whatsoever. I wanted it to work, it simply didn’t have any effect for me. I rate it two of five stars, for having attractive packaging and a smooth and palatable flavour.

 

 

 

Goboxi: A More Productive Inbox?

Goboxi is the next generation of applications for email which takes time management, social management and inbox management to the next level. Integrating multiple common tasks into a single, attractive, clutter free interface, everything is presented in an intuitive and user friendly format. There is no real learning curve so far, as everything is very easy to figure out at a single glance. One of my favourite points about the software is their email filtration. Somewhat simpler than Google’s new “Inbox” application, the algorythms simply sort what is important from what isn’t, and rather than labeling things into finance, friends etc, it simply places them in a “Read Later” folder. This puts more of the power in your hands as to how you would like to categorize.

Upon login, you are presented with three columns. Important Inbox, Tasks and Calendar. Each column is responsive, and adding items or reviewing items in any of the columns is very simple. Overall, it’s a super start to an ever demanding set of utilities. While the programme itself is in its early iteration, functionality is high and it is usable as is in a production environment. I would comfortably replace the Microsoft Outlook Desktop Application with this webpage. There are still many features that we would like to see, such as syncing with other apps from Google (keep, calendar, contacts etc.), Microsoft (calendar, outlook etc.) and the likes, but Project, Basecamp, Asana and Wunderlist support is listed as “coming soon”. What it presently lacks in features, Goboxi more than makes up for with the interface and simplicity of use. I personally can’t wait to see what else they do. This is definately a company to keep your eyes on!

Say hello to a moreproductive you

Clutter-free Emal, To-dos, Calendar

With everything important in one location, you can now focus on getting work done and have more time for what matters.