Daily Archives: January 5, 2019

In Praise Of Kneeling Chairs.

by Anura Guruge

This 25(+)-year kneeling chair may not have saved my life,
but, it sure saved my back.

Without it I would have been a bent over, drug-popping cripple by now.

Today I finally put it out of its misery and got a new kneeling chair! 

I have been using kneeling chairs for nearly 30-years. I am sure glad I got hooked on them that far back. IF NOT for them my back would be spaghetti by now. But, thanks to my kneeling chairs I have pretty decent back muscles, back strength and posture.

That is the beauty of kneeling chairs. It forces you to brace yourself, while seated, using your back muscles. Nothing else. The only thing that keeps you upright or semi-upright are your back muscles.

I was lucky, I started young (or at least before it was too late). Can’t deny it; I did not discover kneeling chairs until I was in my 30s. But, in my 30s I was super fit! So, using a kneeling chair was no issue. I had a lot of muscles in very good working order.

I have been wracking my brain to remember how I stumbled upon kneeling chairs. I think (but I can’t be sure) that I saw someone (and it might have been the legendary Lyman Chapin of ISO OSI fame) using one at Data General (where I worked briefly in the late 1980s). I immediately saw the benefits. I got one shortly afterwards.

The one I retired today, I have had (and used ‘daily’) for over 25-years!

At a minimum I have written 20 books, 200 published articles and 20,000 blog posts while seated on it!

Yes, I have spent a LOT of time seated on it and it bears the scars — as do I! Yes, I have calluses on my legs from kneeling on this chair. Yes, that is duct-tape! I hated to get rid of it. It and I had quite literally bonded together. But, it was beginning to hurt.

So, today I got a new one with cushions 3x as thick! It feels different, but it is sure comfortable.

The real point of this post was to tell YOU to consider using a kneeling chair. It is so, so, so good for your back.

Think about it. They don’t have to be expensive. The one that I bought, from Amazon, was $60.

My new $60 kneeling chair from Amazon.

Related posts:
Check Category ‘Books‘.

by Anura Guruge

The Picture Of The Day (Google Pixel 2) + 6 Also-Rans — January 5, 2019.

by Anura Guruge

NO post-processing whatsoever.

Taken with my Google Pixel 2 Phone.

Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.

New England farm in snow Anura Guruge New Hampshire Google Pixel 2

The also rans:

Related posts:
Category ‘Six Images’.

by Anura Guruge

Is The Ruggedized ‘Garmin Instinct’ The Right Activity-Tracker For You?

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.

Amazon listing.

Garmin Instinct might very well be the right watch for YOU, if Adrenaline plays a major role in YOUR lifestyle.

The Garmin Instinct is a distinctive, semi-high-end, affordable sport/smart watch.

It is designed to withstand a lot of physical and climatic abuse. It complies to U.S. military standard 810G (MIL-STD-810). Hence, it is meant to cope with substantial amounts of: impact shock, vibration, temperature fluctuations, air/water pressure variation, surface contamination etc. It also has a 10 ATM (i.e., 100-meter depth) water rating, and includes open water swimming as one of the 30+ sport activities it can track.

It is basically combat-ready when it comes to wrist-wearables!

If adventure, risk, rough-and-tumble, adrenaline and fitness are part of your lifestyle, the Instinct could very well be the right Garmin watch for you – irrespective of gender.

With the Instinct, Garmin is trying to thread a very fine needle amongst its ever-increasing portfolio of feature-rich sport/smart watches. Cut to the chase, the visually-distinctive, dual-dial Instinct slots in above the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and below the Garmin Fenix 5. Its competitive US $299 (MSRP) reflects this.

Hence, why I refer to it as affordable and semi-high-end. Garmin had to be careful here because it does market a tactical (i.e., a toughened) version of the Fenix 5X – the US $650 (MSRP) ‘tactix Charlie’. It appears that it Garmin was successful in this, and hit the desired sweet-spot smack-on.

Click to ENLARGE. Amazon listing.

The Major Pros-and-Cons

Major Pros

1.   Ruggedized to withstand above average levels of shock & stress.

2.   Exceptional navigational capabilities, with GPS, GLONASS & Galileo support, including ‘TrackBack’, breadcrumb trails on courses (downloaded from Garmin Connect), 3-axis compass, support for ‘Garmin Explore’, and one-button, immediate-access to GPS coordinates, altitude and compass.

3.   Wrist-based optical heart rate monitoring.

4.   Sleep monitoring with REM & Deep Sleep analysis.

5.   Support for over 30 outdoor sport activities including: hiking, climbing, snowboarding, skiing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking etc.

6.   Smart notifications (with limited TXT responses when paired to an Android phone), live tracking and GroupTrack.

7.   10 ATM water rating with support for monitoring open water swimming.

8.   Sunrise/Sunset times.

9.   Distinctive, easy-to-read, sunlight-visible monochrome display with button-driven access (appropriate for a tactical watch such as this).

10.   Better battery life on par with the Fenix 5 and as such better than that of a Vivoactive 3.

Major Cons

1.   Not customizable with downloadable watch faces, widgets, data fields and APPs – i.e., it is not supported by Garmin Connect IQ.

2.   No maps.

3.   No VO2 Max nor training metrics.

4.   No gyroscope despite support for open water swimming.

5.    Does not support golf.

6.   No on-board music, though you can control music on your phone with a supplied widget.

7.   No Garmin Pay.

8.   Smaller, lower-resolution display.

Lack Of Connect IQ Support In Perspective

This, ironically, has become the most talked about aspect of the Instinct. It is incongruous, but it is definitely not as bad as it first looks. It is actually a non-issue in the end.

The Instinct does come pre-loaded with twelve highly-customizable watch faces plus the standard widget repertoire found on a Vivoactive 3, e.g., ABC (altimeter/barometer/compass), Calendar, Alt. time zone, heart rate, weather, My day, last sport, sunrise/sunset etc. And as with a Vivoactive 3 or Fenix 5 you can customize your widget loop, i.e., the order in which they appear (or not). So, in reality you will not be stuck with one fixed watch face and no widgets.

The issue here is the inability to avail oneself to third-party watch faces and widgets. To be fair to Garmin, many of the watch faces, widgets and APPs currently available on Connect IQ might not have worked on the Instinct given its unique dual-dial display. This makes sense. That said, one should not expect that Garmin might activate IQ support at a later date, with a new version of firmware. If you are considering getting an Instinct it is best to assume that this watch is meant to operate outside of IQ.

The Instinct, however, has unstinted support on both Garmin Connect and Garmin Explore. So, it is a smartwatch on par with the Vivoactive 3, and, furthermore, you do have the ability to create and download your desired trails to the watch. So, it is definitely a connected, smartwatch. Do not lose sight of that.

If You Need A Tactical Watch

It is an open secret that with the Instinct Garmin is trying to muscle into the Casio ‘G-Shock’ watch market. The dual-dial watch face, akin to that pioneered by Casio on their original ‘G’-watches of the 1980s, was a telling clue.

Casio still markets an impressive array of daunting-looking G-Shock watches – but they, even at the $750 high-end, lack fitness/sleep, sport and smart features. So, with an Instinct you get a toned-down ‘G-shock’ with semi-high-end Garmin functionality. That is basically the deal: a Casio G-Shock with quite a bit of Fenix 5 capability. That is quite the combination. Quite the hybrid.

Garmin has a short promotional video for the Instinct (above). It features a motorbike-riding fireman who gallantly fights an active forest fire. It shows him clearing away smoldering trees, oblivious to the heat and smoke, using an ax and chainsaw — woodchips flying everywhere, and coating his sweaty wrists. The camera lingers on the Instinct as he bears down on the burning logs with the trusty chainsaw. This to illustrate that the Instinct can cope with vibration, heat, smoke and shock with undue equanimity. If you can relate to such a scenario (and there is also a female firefighter in the video), then the Instinct is the watch for you. As I said in the title: ‘if adrenalin figures in your lifestyle’.

Given its target market, and competitive price-point, some of the ‘major cons’ listed above become irrelevant! This is meant to be a rugged, practical work watch – not a dress watch for the boardroom or a ballroom. That also explains the omission of golf. Once you appreciate that, everything about the Instinct makes perfect sense.

The Bottom Line

Think of the Instinct as an affordable, ruggedized (MIL-STD-810) semi-Fenix 5. The navigational and sport capabilities of a Fenix 5, in a toughened, distinctive case at a price point similar to that of a Vivoactive 3. The Impact is indubitably feature-rich, and the lack of Connect IQ support is by no means a showstopper.

The key words that distinguish the Impact are: durability, navigation, 10 ATM, heart rate, sleep, fitness, distinctiveness, notifications and price. Mull those over as a part of your decision-making process. It is a capable, compelling Garmin watch at a competitive price – a Casio G-Shock with trademark Garmin features.

When it comes to Garmin wearables we are, of late, blessed with choice. There appears to be a compelling Garmin for every price point, every stylistic choice and every need. In this context, the Instinct is the affordable, ruggedized tactical watch that will always try to get you home despite the physical and atmospheric abuse it has undergone. A $300 Garmin for the Indiana Jones and his lady sidekick.

Related posts:
Search ‘tracker’.

by Anura Guruge

January 5 – 6, 2019, Partial Solar Eclipse Not Visible From New England (Or Even East Coast).

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE. From ‘timeanddate.com’.

You might see it in the new BUT it, from the U.S., is only visible if you are westernmost Alaska. It is essentially a far-eastern eclipse. So do not feel that you missed out. Not our turn.

But, do not despair. We have a total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019, weather permitting. More on that as we get closer. OK?

Related posts:
Check Category ‘astronomy’.
Search ‘eclipse’.

by Anura Guruge