Synology DS416Play NAS

DS416Play review

The DS416Play NAS
I really am impressed by this little box of awesome,

So I thought I’d treat myself after the ‘interesting’ time I had at the end of the year and bought myself a NAS (Network Addressable Storage) device – think a huge hard disk that can be plugged in to the network.

Install

This was simply a case of shoving in some disks that I had laying about the office, connecting to my network and firing the thing up.

I simply had to find the NAS on the network then to bring up the config page. This in turn made the installation pretty straightforward.

After a period the NAS had created a nice little storage system for all my music, photos and movies.

Features

There are too many for this simple blog post to mention!

  • Want your own secure cloud to host your files – check
  • Want to backup your system on to a fault tolerant backup device? – yup
  • Want to play your media from a variety of devices, including streaming over the Internet? – that too!

The product page on the Synology website gives a great overview of what this little thing can do – have a look here: Synology DS416Play 

There are about 4 models of this box:

  • DS416 – The base model
  • DS416Play – This one is tailored to media use and has more power to change the media format as required
  • DS416j – This one appears to be a slightly lower spec that the others; A budget version perhaps?
  • DS416Slim – This version will only take 2.5″ drives, but has a much smaller form factor.

Review

So far I’m really impressed!

This little box now has 3x the storage space I needed (I’ve already filled ⅓ of it with existing files). It’s holding all my media and backups of important files from my PCs.

Allowing me access via my phone and the Internet means I can access anything on the NAS from pretty much anywhere. Great if I’m on a long journey and want to watch something, or need to view an important document when I’m away.

A quiet, fast, secure and fault tolerant accessible media storage device – what’s not to love about this?
The fact that it is fault tolerant is also a massive boon. as it means that I can not worry about hardware failure. Just out of interest I pulled one of the drives out whilst it was running (simulating a drive failure), because I wanted to see what happens. The system beeped a lot, sent me a mail to say it had happened, and told me what to do to fix it. GREAT!

Shoving the drive back in and taking the appropriate steps quickly brought the system back. The files were all fully intact, and accessible both whilst the system had a drive missing, and whilst it rebuilt.

It also seems to be quite fast on the network, though I’ve not done any performance testing, the shared drive I have set up is instantly accessible, and the HTPC (Home Theatre PC) I have connected has absolutely no problems finding and playing the media on it.

What a great little box! It’s also fairly future proof as I can expand the storage space as I need.

To summarise – I’m really impressed! 10/10

Garmin Edge Touring

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So after struggling to read maps, use Google Maps on the phone and plan routes on the bike for what seems like forever, I finally decided to join the 21st century and get my self a bike Sat Nav.

Install

Garmin Edge Touring

The Garmin Edge Touring
Sat Nav for the bike with few useless extras.

This was pretty straightforward really – the package I purchased from Halfords came with it’s own ‘out front’ style mount, which simply clamps to your bars with a screw (incidentally this didn’t fit on my bars due to my bar mounted light, now installed on my GFs bike), and also comes with a shim for slimmer style bars.

As all Garmin style product this then uses the ‘quarter turn’ style mount to attach the device to the mounting.

It’s a really simple method that works well.

I did find one problem though, in that when wearing my flourescent yellow riding jacket, the reflectivity of the screen makes it hard to read. Mainly due to where it’s situated on my stem and the angle it’s on, but it’s not impossible to see.

Features

From the Halfords website:

With round trip routing and Garmin connect there are more ways to find new rides with the Garmin Edge Touring Special Edition GPS Cycle Computer with Out-front Bike Mount & ProtectiveCase – Exclusive to Halfords. Simple to use, you can keep track of your real time stats during your ride to make sure you stay on target.

  • Guide your ride – new simple user interface
  • Real time customisable data screen
  • Tough, water resistant, compact and lightweight design
  • On and off road navigation with the Garmin cycle map
  • Round trip routing with 3 ride options
  • Share and save routes with Garmin Connect

As I’m sure you are aware, there is a version which has a few extra ‘features’ on such as heart rate monitor and ANT+ compatibility, but given that I don’t need those this is the basic version.

Review

So when the doctors finally allowed me back on the bike, off I go to play with my new toy to see if I could use the new toy as well as the old one (I managed to get an Edge 200 for £30!).

After a brief fiddle with the buttons and the settings, I managed to record my stats with the usual ease (basically you press the ‘Start Timer’ button and set off), and comparing stats from my previous rides seems to be as accurate as ever too.

The mapping functions is the whole point of this unit though, so I set off from my office having told it I wanted to go home. The route it chose wasn’t was what I would have chosen, so all well and good there then.

After purposely getting lost in a previously unknown estate I again told it to route me home. Again this proved no problem, but I did manage to accidentally stop the recording of the stats, so statistically I’m about 4 miles short this month. It seems that the stats side and the mapping sides of this can be used independently, though I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

Would I really want to navigate and not know the stats for the ride? Perhaps some people do…

Still, my own stupidity aside, I’m loving this gadget more than the previous incarnation. The routing functions seem to be about right for my preferred style of riding – I have read some reports of people having some problems with that though.

Now I’ve downloaded the Garmin Basecamp software too and entered my regular stops and clients as waypoints, and a few regular routes, giving me more options to waste time on the bike.

I’ve yet to test the round trip function, where you can tell the unit to calculate a route of X miles for you, but that’s for when I’m medically allowed to ride properly again (looking like after Christmas now!).

All in all I’d go 8/10 – A great little unit with a couple of easily avoidable flaws.

Lets Twist Again (Blood Clot)

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So I thought I’d better update the story of the twisted ankle with the details of a quite worrisome discovery, a blood clot in my leg.

My symptoms were a strong, constant, cramp-like pain in the leg which I could feel under the muscle. A tightness in the muscle when relaxed, and coldness in my foot/toes.
If you feel anything like this go to A&E and get it checked!
A couple of weeks or so after I had a good go at breaking my ankle, but not quite succeeding (details here), I started noticing a cramp like pain in the top of my right leg, not too much at this point, just a ‘niggle’ and therefore really nothing a grown man like I should worry about.

This slowly increased to a point that it was more painful than my now healing ankle [I could comfortably walk on this now].

A brief search on t’Internet threw up a lot of potential causes for this, mainly DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), but I didn’t seem to have any but one of the symptoms, just the cramp-like pain, so I dismissed this as a possibility.

Mentioning this to my lovely significant other she said I “shouldn’t worry about it” as it was “probably my leg having to compensate” for being off the ankle for a while – and I was happy to agree with that assumption, after all, it wasn’t a pain we all haven’t felt at sometime (cramp), just it’s longevity was different.

DVT (Blood clot)A couple more days passed by, and as she readied herself for a regular trip out on the bike, I settled in for a night on the sofa with a goo geek movie – sadly this wasn’t to come to pass.

After about 30 mins or so my leg (which was by now slightly swollen at the calf, quite hot and sore to touch), decided to suddenly cause my foot to go cold, rapidly, and the pain became unbearable.

So I called the NHS 111 service to ask for some guidance, a fairly brief conversation and the instruction to “get myself to A&E within the next 6 hours” got me a little worried – but off I dutifully trotted.

Arriving at A&E I sat and waited for some time [nothing unusual there then], until the nurse poked, prodded and sent me directly to Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) with a letter suggesting I had a problem – namely a potential blood clot in my leg.

BRI sat me in their waiting area for a while, took some blood samples and had me waiting again – I had gone to BRI via home to ask my girlfriend to take me, this was a very good idea as it turns out.

After nearly 3 hours waiting for the blood results (!) we were ushered into a cubicle for some more waiting. Someone in the cubicle next door at this point was complaining about the wait also and the fact that they dismissed him with nothing, the last time he was there.

Finally the doctor came to discuss his findings, which apparently were inconclusive, but basically said that I might have a clot, but would need an ultrasound to confirm (why they didn’t just do this to start with still baffles me), and supplied some blood thinning drugs along with some pain meds.

The following day I was called and an ultrasound appointment arranged, which confirmed that I did indeed have a large blood clot just behind my right knee, and I would have to “keep taking the tablets” and attend a DVT clinic (not gone yet), and potentially wear a compression sock for 2 years. Nice! [not].

So, after a brief walk to the bank, I end up with a potentially life threatening condition and on some drugs that require me to carry a “Patient Alert” card in case I’m involved in an accident, which also cause me to go dizzy at the drop of a hat, and have me having to sit down suddenly or risk fainting.

Right now I’m sitting here with a highly painful leg, feeling slightly dizzy and somewhat worried…

Twisted

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As the entire world has asked me what I’ve done with my ankle and automatically assumed it was a biking injury, I will lament my woes here for the entire world to see the extent of my clumsiness.

So one fateful Friday I needed to go rectify one of my more stupid moments, where I managed to totally forget the PIN number to the company card I have – I’m talking about a total mind blank here – so I popped to the bank.

Now usually I’d be on my bike, as I was working from the office all day, but for reasons of product collections and delivery, providence decided that I’d be motorised for the day. As it turns out this was a good move!

The bank in question has a large forecourt (mainly flat) and is elevated, with about 10 steps up to the door and a disabled ramp, zig-zagging, up to the same door, past the ubiquitous cash machine; This ATM was my focus.

On crutches again..!

Oh Joy! A few weeks to enjoy the pleasures of the crutches. At least there’ll be an upper body workout every time I go out.

Up the steps with my usual aplomb, performed technical wizardry with the technology as ever, regained the use of the cash card as the machine reported that it had indeed done as requested and the “PIN Unlocked”.

Yeay!

Trotted back down the steps, and started across the flat forecourt and disaster hit – I ‘cockled’ over on my right ankle; heard a sickening ‘crack’ and was viciously pulled to the ground by the usually non capricious Gravity.

Fearing the worst, I picked myself up and limped to the car…

Now at this point there wasn’t much beyond quite a sore feeling, so I travelled to my next appointment to pick up some kit, whereupon I met some more steps – I hobbled up them [painful] and I hobbled back down them [more painful]. There was also someone’s child there who told me I should go to hospital, so I did.

Bradford Royal was busy, there was around 6-8 people queuing for attention at the reception, and about 20-30 sat waiting in the seating area.

After the usual game of 20 questions, I asked for some pain killers, but “I’m not medically qualified to give you any – sorry” was the response.

So I endured what was about an hour, attempting to sit on plastic, bench style seats, with an ankle growing in both pain and girth. The swelling was, at this point, getting impressive, causing my shoe to become quite tight, and, upon removing said shoe, gained comments from a casual observer that “that’s broke, that”.

Assuming that meant she thought I’d broken my ankle – I must admit that I did too.

Finally Lisa popped her head out of her assigned cubicle and called my name, much hopping and hurting ensued until I was safely ensconced on the bed in the cubicle; which as it turns out is a little doorway on to what looked like a treatment area.

Lisa gave me drugs… I offered her a position on my Christmas card list as a reward.

A quick drive to the torture of the X-ray until [I was twisted in to some painful contortions], and then the longest wait on ‘minors’ whist they appeared to d nothing.

Finally after a cursory glance at the aforementioned X-rays I was bundled out of the treatment room in minors to wait for the attentions of someone who soon handed me a pair of crutches, and was thereafter summarily dismissed.

Not even a comment as to what I have managed to do to myself…

So now I have to perform R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice [until the swelling goes down], Compression and Elevation, for some weeks.

No cycling through the best few weeks of the summer for me then 🙁

[UPDATED HERE]

Kindle Voyage

The new Amazon Kindle Voyage is their flagship e-reader, and costs a reasonable chunk of cash too, but is it worth it?

This is the new Kindle Voyage. Costly, but a worthwhile update?

This is the new Kindle Voyage. Costly, but a worthwhile update?

Having previously loved my Kindle (keyboard version) I was looking forward to getting this. After donating my Kindle to my girlfriend’s father, I had been having to read my e-books via my phone and the Kindle app – not a comfortable experience…

Install

Installing the Kindle was simply a matter of connecting it to my Amazon account, and all my books were instantly available, as well as the progress I had made through them – an extremely useful reminder of what I had/had not read.

Features

  1. High-resolution 300 ppi display — reads even more like the printed page
  2. Reinvented page turns — PagePress enables you to turn the page without lifting a finger
  3. New adaptive front light — provides ideal brightness, day or night
  4. Our thinnest Kindle ever, with new flush-front bezel design
  5. Battery lasts weeks, not hours
  6. Kindle Unlimited, read as much as you want, choosing from over 650,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days. Learn more

Review

I tend to forget what I have read and have found that suddenly I remember about ⅓ of the way in; and as I’m dyslexic and read particularly slowly, this can run to a few days!
I can’t say how much I love this little box!

Having missed the reading experience on my previous Kindle I was anxious to get this in my hands and relax in the bath with a beer and a good book. I have to say (after dropping the Kindle in to a waterproof case) – mission accomplished!

There are a couple of features I feel are a great improvement over my previous Kindle, namely the light, ‘x-ray’ and the ‘reading progress’ indicator.

The light [3 above] is marvellous – no longer do I get complaints from my other half during those sleepless nights, trying to read by (an all “too bright”) lamplight, the light glows rather than glares so is apparently ‘acceptable’.

X-ray is a feature that helps you with the structure of a book and it’s contents; for instance if you have forgotten who a particular character is, you can use X-ray to get more details on them. Highly useful with a book of many characters!

The ‘Reading progress’ is a software feature that shows the time to the end of the chapter or book at the bottom of the page. This works by simply analysing your reading speed and working out the time to the next point, so I can gauge how whether or not I have time to get there, or what to say when asked – No more guesswork = less trouble to get in.

The page turning features [2 above] manifests as two symbols at both sides of the Kindle – a vertical line and a dot – squeezing the line on either side turns the page forwards, the dot goes back. You can also press on the screen to turn the page, right for forward, left for back. This means that you can comfortably read with one hand.

The resolution, at 300 ppi [1 above] is apparently the same used for printed books so it’s as good as looking at a real book (or so the marketing people will have you believe). To be honest I didn’t even notice, it’s simply comfortable to read with.

The ‘Kindle Unlimited’ feature sounds good, though I have quite a few books to get through so I haven’t ventured there yet.

Quite simply I love it – 9/10
(10 if the page turn was instant)