Does Rhodiola help reduce stress? Here's my experience trying it out Last year was a busy and stressful year, towards the end I was getting constant headaches, muscle tension, all typical signs of overwork and stress. One day, I saw one of my friends share an article about Rhodiola, a wonder herb, adaptagen, stress reducer! So I thought hey lets try it out and see if it works. In short - no, but read on if you're interested in my experience.
How does Seeed Fusion stack up as a low budget PCB fab It's getting close to Easter time which means assembling more electronic bunnies and for that I need new PCBs. This time around I decided to place and order with Seeed Studio Fusion (that's 3 Es) instead of any of the other PCB Fab I've used in the past. Overall I have to say they have a much better quality than Shenzhen2U, service is fast but shipping is a little pricey, though still much cheaper than Oshpark.
So I finally got to try eating some space food When we were in New York, we visited the American Museum of Natural History and while exploring their space exhibitions I bought some of the space food they sell (it was all ice cream). I ended up giving most of it away as presents but kept one - Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips. I've never had freeze dried food so watched this awesome video first - Making astronaut ice cream in my home shop. After that I knew what I was in for, read on for my experience with this interesting food item.
Legeod Star Wars AT-DP kit review (fake Chinese Lego clone) - part 1 A while back I ordered a bunch of fake Lego kits from China and did a quick review of the included minifigs for the AT-DP kit. This series of posts completes that review. Before we get into the details however, here's a photo of the fully assembled kit (available from AliExpress)...
Getting started with Velvet WiFi (part 1) Velvet Wi-Fi has been in the news in Australia as well as in the UK and has been referred to as Uber for Telcos. This startup has come out of Brisbane, which is my home town so it got my interest. Even though the legality of reselling your broadband is a bit of a grey area with many Telcos explicitly prohibiting the practice, I was still keen to see how well the service works.
Human Resource Machine - a game that teaches programming I was browsing the Apple App Store today and saw that there was a $0.99 special on a bunch of games and so thought I'd check some out. One that caught my eye was 'Human Resource Machine', which is a game about learning how to write code. I tried it out and it's actually quite fun (mind you I already like writing coding anyway).
RasPlex and the iPazzPort KP-810-56 Bluetooth Keyboard I've had my RasPlex box running for a while now. This whole time I've been using a 2.4Ghz full size wireless keyboard with it and it worked great but for the living room it's just an overkill in terms of size. After much contemplation I decided to switch to a small bluetooth keyboard and he's my experience so far.
BlitzWolf BW-LT1 LED Rotatable Dimmable Desk Lamp I've been keeping an eye out for a replacement desk light for a while now. All the options I've looked at have either been too expensive or just not the style that I wanted (there is so much garbage out there), until I came across the BlitzWolf BW-LT1 LED Rotatable Dimmable Desk Lamp. I couldn't believe the price it was listed at first, going for a mere $AUD63.13, which is a steal compared to some other lamps I looked at that had a similar design (like the Dyson CSYS light @ $850 for example). Here's a short review of the BW-LT1, overall I have to say that I am very happy with this purchase.
How ShenZhen2U stacks up as a low budget PCB fab Just before Easter I've put together a PCB of a flashing LED Easter Bunny. I was working with tight timelines and only had just over 2 weeks before Easter came around and I wanted the PCB in time for the break. I knew that Oshpark would not be able to turn around that quickly (postage to Australia) so I looked for alternatives and found ShenZhen2U. Overall I have to say that ShenZhen2U is fantastic! Read on for details.
Finally checked out the Edison style LED light globes and they rock Edison style light globes are cool without any doubt. Over the recent years they gained popularity in many a craft beer bar too. Back in 2013 I even built a really cool looking Vintage style Edison light bulb table lamp. So what's the problem with traditional Edison bulbs that prevents them from being used everywhere? Well they consume a large amount of power and if you're going to power dozens of these, your electricity bill will go through the roof. Luckily there is a more efficient solution to this: LED faux Edison bulbs.
First experience with the Eachine H8 Mini Quadcopter RC Drone For a long time I shied away form getting a quadcopter and one of these days I impulse bought one of the Eachine H8 Mini Quadcopter RC Drones. This past weekend I finally had a chance to try it out - I have to say that a quad feels very different to any other RC craft I've played with.
Love them or hate them the new Facebook like emoticons are here They've been rumoured for a long time and today they've finally arrived. The new Facebook like emoticons are here on mobile and desktop Facebook. Personally I think this is a great addition. Instead of a single like option you can now 'like', 'love', 'haha', 'wow', 'sad' or 'angry'. Even though those don't work well as verbs they do get the point across!
Does f.lux for OSX really make a difference to your sleep patterns? You've probably heard of f.lux, an app that reduces the amount of blue light that your screen puts out at night. That is meant to help with sleep problems due to distorted circadian rhythms caused by the blue light. I've been using f.lux for a few weeks now to see if it actually has some sort of effect, read on to check out what I observed.
Sony PS4 In-Ear noise reducing headset is really good The Sony PS4 In-Ear Headset was announced way back in November 2015 for a December launch date. I tried finding it then but haven't had much luck, the Playstation Australia website lists it as being sold at JB Hi-Fi, but even they didn't have these in stock. Eventually I managed to track one down though. My first impressions with this headset are really good, read on for further details.
Edimax HP-5103K AV500 Mini Powerline Adapter Starter Kit I've recently installed the Edimax HP-5103K AV500 Mini Powerline Adapter Starter Kit at my parents' place to connect their Bravia TV to the ADSL router in another room and I was quite happy with how easy it was to set the whole thing up.
The Qantas Entertainment app is awesome and you should use it I was lucky enough to be able to try out the Qantas Entertainment app on my flight this week and I am very impressed. This app is available on some Qantas flights and what it does is replace the plane's entertainment system by allowing you to watch all the offered movies, shows and even listen to radio or music directly on your own device. I downloaded it on my (quite old) iPad Mini and it worked like a charm.
Is Apple's iOS News app a Google Play Newsstand killer? Apple updated iOS to version 9.1 recently and with that brought out its new News app. I had a bit of a play around with it and must say that I do really like it. It is a built-in app so there is no additional download, it also means you can't remove it and every iOS 9.1 device will have it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because as you will see below it boasts all the features you would want in a free news reader app and it is a serious competitor to Google's Play Newsstand. But is it a Newsstand killer?
Putting together the SMD version of the DSO138 DIY Digital Oscilloscope Kit I ordered the DSO 138 Oscilloscope Kit from Banggood.com recently so that I could practice my SMD soldering. The kit has finally arrived and I put it together. Overall I must say that the quality is quite nice, there was one pre-soldered IC on the PCB and the LCD was mounted to a breakout board already. The instructions were quite straight forward, except for the SMD soldering part. Please note that you will need SMD soldering gear to assemble this kit.
So I bought a cheap Chinese 40W CO2 Laser Cutter and it's actually OK (Part 1) I've been tossing up the idea of either getting a new 3D Printer or a Laser Cutter and then I came across Flux3D which could do both to some extent. After nurturing the idea for about a month I decided that I didn't want to mess around with another 3D Printer until they were easier to use so went for the Laser Cutter. After a number of quotes (some going into tens of thousands of dollars) I hit up eBay and found that for just $550 AUD I could buy a desktop sized laser cutter. I was sceptical, but I went for it. Read on for my experience.
With iPhone 6s having arrived I'm just about ready to throw my iPhone 5 in the trash I was surprised to find my iPhone 6S arrived on Friday the 25th, the day it was arriving to everyone who preordered it. I was one of those people who put in the preorder in the last possible minute, I guess I just got lucky. This is the first new phone I've had in years, replacing my old iPhone 5, which I'm about ready to throw out, and by that I really mean pass it onto my parents like most tech items seem to go in my family.
Got my Sphero BB-8 Star Wars Droid, lets see what it's like I got the BB-8 Droid for my birthday this week and started to play around with it. Overall I have to say that it is fun, but doesn't live up to expectations based on its ad which really hypes up the product (for the price you pay at least). However if you don't take the ad seriously, the Sphero BB-8 is a fun toy to play with. So lets see the unboxing and what it comes with and then I'll show some videos of it exploring around my apartment.
Creating a bootable SD card for RaspberryPi on OSX is so easy now It's been some time since I've had to create a fresh Raspberry Pi SD card and I'm really pleased how easy it is to do now. There is no need to get your hands dirty with command line tools like diskutil or dd, just download a graphical app and let it do the work for you. In my case I used the ApplePi Baker. The app is super easy to use and it shows you progress so you don't have to be guessing how much time is left before your SD card is ready to go.
LASER! - Endless Laser Dodging Action I was browsing through the games in the iTunes store and this game caught my attention: LASER! - Endless Laser Dodging Action. The reason I downloaded it was because it reminded me of Monument Valley, you have to admit the resemblance is there. However, the looks is as close as it gets. I found LASER! to be ok to kill a few minutes of your time, but wasn't super impressed with it overall.
Replacing the Cambridge Audio AVR551R with Marantz NR1605 My Cambridge Audio AVR551R finally died this morning. After doing some troubleshooting by turning it completely off, unplugging everything, then plugging everything back in and turning it on, it still didn't work. I tried to do a factory reset on it to no avail either (hold down the BD/DVD and Analog Stereo Direct buttons until RESET appears). In light of this, I went to my local AV store and got a Marantz NR1605 receiver to replace the broken CA one. Here are my first impressions with the unit, overall I have to say it is light years ahead of the AVR551R.
Fallout Shelter - it's a game about sex, violence and sweet sweet loot After some initial struggles getting Fallout Shelter to run on my iPad mini, I was able to get it going on my iPhone 5 (yes I really do need to upgrade both soon!). The game is all it's hyped up to be and more, it's really addictive and lots of fun, though with bouts of frustration thrown in for good measure.
Last Voyage - a game to play if you loved Monument Valley I really loved Monument Valley when it came out. Then there was an expansion and a special level released. I've been craving for more of the same style of game play and recently came across a title that approaches that, it's called Last Voyage. Although you don't have a central character to play, the game is about puzzles and has a mysterious feel to it.
RaspberryPi 2 and a swish new case from RS Components I received my new Raspberry Pi 2 last week and had a chance to play around with it on the weekend. In a nutshell, I am impressed. Both the raspi and the cases available have come a long way since the initial release of the original Raspberry Pi. It doesn't feel like a hacked-together amateur device any more. It looks and feels professional, the finish is fantastic and it performs really well.
Dell UltraSharp U3415W Curved Monitor Unboxing So my previous monitor was getting a little small for the work I was doing and was also starting to play up a little, randomly turning off and back on after prolonged use. It was time to get a new one. Enter the Dell UltraSharp U3415W monitor. This thing is a beast! The box it came in is also just as impressive.
TPG FTTB VDSL is as fast as they claim About 6 months ago I had an expression of interest letter arrive in the mail from TPG asking if I would be interested in having a FTTB connection set up in my apartment complex. I replied saying yes. As soon it was available, I signed up for their plan. The plan costs $69.99 and is advertised as unlimited with 50-100Mbps download speeds and 20Mbps upload speeds. Sounded good to me, but I was still a bit skeptical.
Alto's Adventure on iOS Alto's Adventure is another one of those 'endless running' type of games, except you're on a snowboard and you have to rescue the Llamas that have escaped. The story is very simple and the controls even simpler, simply tap the screen to jump or hold to start doing a flip, which can end up as a trick. I played the game for a while, it was fun, but it didn't really draw me in too much to be honest.
Giant Boulder of Death on iOS I know that I'm late to the table on this one, but while I was on a plane this week I saw someone playing this game and it looked amazing. For the next flight I made sure that I had downloaded Giant Boulder of Death (GBoD) so that I could (literally) spend the entire flight playing it. This game is super fun and addictive and if you get kicks out of rolling a giant boulder and crushing innocent cows, hitchhikers and lumberjacks, you will love it too.
Get notifications from your Android device on your Mac I use a Mac for work, I also have an Android for work. I have the tendency to leave my phone in my bag a lot of the time so this makes me miss phone calls and messages that could be important. At first I thought the only solution is to simply check my phone, but after searching around I found an App called Pushbullet that pushes notifications from your Android to your Mac. You'll (or rather I) won't miss a work related call or txt again even if my phone is in my bag!
Hands on with DuetDisplay - bugs, terrible performance, not worth it I was really excited when I heard that about the Duet app that promised to make your iPad into a second screen with good refresh rates and even retina resolution (if available). I downloaded the app and installed it as soon as it was available, only to be severely disappointed by how buggy and slow it is.
Why I stopped playing SimCity BuildIt soon after getting it Visually, SimCity BuildIt is a stunning game. I was really excited to get it to try it out and at first spent a fair amount of time playing it. The excitement quickly wore off as I realised that it is just another one of those 'grind to build' or 'pay exuberant amounts of money to make progress' kind of titles. Of course the slant is heavy towards getting you to purchase premium currency.
Goat Simulator released on OS X I know I'm a few days late and the release was actually on the 27th of June, but hey that still does not take away from the awesomeness of this game. My curiosity of what it would be like to be a goat has finally been satisfied. This game is silly and pointless, but quite a lot of fun to play. Check out some of these screenshots I took.
The MiniDrive for 15 inch rMBP now in Red - Shiny! The first MiniDrive that I got, I was not so happy with, but now I've had the chance to use the new version with a red end cap and I have to say that I am impressed with the improvements. I would recommend this one over the earlier revisions, the manufacturing process looks considerably moved towards a better direction and it looks great too. If you don't know what this is, it's an SD card adapter that fits flush with the Mac and aims to provide an easy way to expand onboard storage.
Microsoft OneNote vs Apple Notes When Microsoft OneNote came out, I was very quick to download it and make the switch from the iOS/OS X Notes app, but over time I've been finding myself slowly creeping back and using the original Notes app for certain things. These are my thoughts about both of these apps: I think both have legitimate use cases and can coexist and used together, but their use is quite different.
This game is art: Monument Valley One of my friends sent this game to me on the iTunes store, saying that I have to play it: the game is like an art piece...well I was skeptical at first, but then I gave it a shot and wow, I am blown away. This game is amazing in so many ways and if you love puzzle games with a twist, then read on. You can find Monument Valley on the iTunes store now, there is only and iOS version at the moment, but an Android version is in the works.
Parrot Flower Power - a bluetooth wireless sensor for your plants - review part 2 This is part two of the Parrot Flower Power review. In the first part of the review I talked about the actual device itself, in this review I am going to concentrate on the software that makes it all come together. The app will only run on iOS for now, there is an Android version in development, but it's not ready yet. There are limitations on which device it will run on too, you will need one of iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad mini, iPod touch 5th generation or later iDevices.
Parrot Flower Power - a bluetooth wireless sensor for your plants - review part 1 Continuing the plant theme, I've finally spent enough time with the Parrot Flower Power to give it a proper review. In a nutshell, this little unit has a few sensors that monitor the soil moisture, pH levels, temperature and light levels. The device then sends this to your iOS device (Android version coming soon) which analyses the data, shows you charts of the readings and gives you tasks to do like water your plant, if it detects the need.
Wood grain EXOSkin for Retina MacBook Pro It's been some time since I've had this EXOSkin on my rMBP and since I've been getting quite a few comments about it, I've decided to write something up. Overall, this is a good cover for the laptop and it really gets the attention, so if that's what you want, this is the product for you.
Review of The Mini Drive for 15 inch rMBP I've been thinking about getting the Nifty MiniDrive for a while so when I finally decided to go and get one, their website what completely broken, so I went searching around and found that there are replicas of this out already. I decided to go for a replica to see how it stacks up. Incidentally as I write this now, the 15 inch rMBP Nifty MiniDrive is not available. The replica I went with is called "The Mini Drive".
Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Desktop Speakers Now that I've finally moved house and settled in somewhat, it was time for a treat and new desktop speakers. My old Bose ones died conveniently just before the move and after much deliberation I've decided to go for the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 pair of desktop speakers. In a nutshell? One of the best decisions I've made.
Windows being resized when monitor goes to sleep on OS X Mavericks Ever since the upgrade to OS X Mavericks, I've been having issues with windows losing their positions and having their sizes changed when my external display goes to sleep. My setup is to have the rMPB running in clamshell mode with a Dell U2713HM monitor connected via a mini-DP to DP cable. This problem has been driving me nuts, but luckily I found a solution.
Incipio STOWAWAY iPhone 5 Credit Card case review I've had a number of iPhone 5 credit card cases now, from horizontal flap to vertical flap, each of those had issues with the flap getting in the way so I thought that I would try something different, the STOWAWAY case from Incipio holds three credit cards in a back compartment of the case without any flaps to get in the way of normal phone use. A great case overall, but it does have it's own issues.
Cura 13.06.2 allows you to split your models before print The new version of Cura has come out and it has a whole bunch of great features, but what got me most excited is the ability to split a model before printing. I was looking for a feature like this and was considering using OpenSCAD to modify the model file, but that's impractical in all cases, with Cura you can do it with a few clicks now.
Portabee 3D printer After ordering my Portabee 3D printer from RomScraj 4 weeks ago, it finally arrived in a heavy jumbo DHL box. It took me about 2 days to assemble with a total of around 8-10 hours of assembly time. I wasn't quite expecting so many components, but it's all together now.
Day and Night driving with a crash cam I've had my crash cam in the car for a few weeks now, generally pretty happy with it, but I thought I'd put up comparisons of day and night footage I've been getting with it.
King Pig Toy doesn't work with iPad mini I was really excited when I received the Angry Birds King Pig Toy as a present, so I went to try it out right away, but lo and behold, it does not work on an iPad mini.
Griffin WaveStand Review (with iPad Mini) I've had my iPad mini for quite some time now and have been using the iPad mini Smart Cover from Apple with it. This cover is great when on the road, but what I found lacking is stability when using the cover to prop the iPad up on a desk.
Using Lion DiskMaker to create a bootable OS X Mountain Lion USB Stick Since I've removed the optical drive from my 2009 model MacBook Pro and replaced it with a second hard drive, the only way to reinstall the OS was via USB. Instead of creating a USB stick the manual way, there is a handy application called Lion DiskMaker that does the job for you. You simply plug in the USB stick, click a few buttons and wait for it to complete.
JSONPad 1.3.5 Review I've started working with JSON recently to define the metadata that my application is going to be using and I needed a good JSON editor for this. I've gone through a few options, but JSONPad was the one that checked all of the boxes, however it does have some minor issues.