Review: VivoBarefoot Neo Trail shoes

Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoesThis review is a bit overdue…you see, I’ve put 491 miles on these shoes!  I’ve grown fond of them and yet, it’s time to retire them and move on.  So, as a goodbye, this review.

I’m guessing if you’re reading this post, you were directed here by a search engine.  Hence I’m going to assume that you already know why you’d want to consider a trail shoe with a thin 3mm sole and no cushioning!  If not, check out VivoBarefoot’s website.  Yes, the sole is thin, though the large tread blocks add a bit of cushioning compared to 3mm road shoes I also own.  The small tread blocks and thin sole result in a highly flexible shoe that easily adapts to the contours of the trail…a feature I really love.  Protection from sharp rocks is adequate…you feel them, but it doesn’t hurt (my trail runs often include decomposed granite).  The level of grip is phenomenal in any terrain…even snow and ice are easily handled by these shoes.  While water resistant, they’re not waterproof and running through slush and puddles does result in wet feet (imagine that).  That same water resistance means they’re not going to breathe as well as some shoes, but with most of my running in <80F temperatures, I never had any issues with that (but I suspect these might not be the best shoes for hot running!).

I used these shoes primarily to train for a marathon through the winter months in Colorado.  While much of the 491 miles was on dirt and trails, a significant portion was on paved sidewalks and bike paths near the end of my training on the long runs.  I also ran the marathon (paved roads the whole way) in these shoes!  They handled the pavement just fine, and the tall tread blocks seemed to be providing some extra cushioning when compared to my ‘road’ shoes.  Many people online have complained about the tread blocks on these shoes not being durable…but as my 491 miles have shown, if you’re a moderately-paced runner like myself (~10min/mile), they hold up just fine.  A corner of a block or two have broken off, and they’ve worn down in some places to only a couple millimeters left.  That’s the reason they’re being retired..they’re still great shoes, but the depth of tread blocks is no longer as aggressive as I’d like and it’s summertime…time to hit the trails where I’ll need all the grip I can get!

Unfortunately, VivoBarefoot is no longer manufacturing this wonderful shoe (the Trail Freak has replaced it).  You can still find some unpopular sizes online if you search.  Stay tuned for more reviews of running gear, including the Neo Trails siblings – the Winterproof Trail Freaks, and the regular Trail Freaks!Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoes

Bekant convertible desk from IKEA

bekant-corner-desk-left-sit-stand__0252623_PE391324_S4IKEA has introduced a convertible sitting/standing desk called the Bekant, for around $500 (there’s actually a whole product family of desks with this name, at different prices).  It has an electric motor that raises the desk for a standing position, or lowers it for sitting.  I’m a huge believer in the benefits of using a standing desk at work, though even I still take sitting breaks during the day.  I love the convertible desk idea and it’s great seeing this trend start to go mainstream.  Watch the video below if you want to watch a desk be lowered and raised, or if you’d rather not waste that 1:14 of your life, just go buy one next time you’re at IKEA.  The transition to a standing desk is not too difficult, and totally worth it (and the transition is much easier with a convertible desk like this that makes it easy to take breaks!).

Why Apple Pay will be a hit

Yet another day, yet another company (Dairy Queen, this time) realizes their computer security was breached, exposing customers’ names and credit card information.  The brilliance of Apple Pay?  None of that data would have been transmitted from the phone to the business in the first place.  There would be no data to actually steal.  Say bye-bye to traditional credit card terminals.  Read about Dairy Queen’s data breach here.

iOS8 – first impressions

ios8Yep, I couldn’t wait.  I upgraded by iPhone to iOS8 earlier today.  I thought I’d share some initial impressions.  First off, this is a really big update…if your iPhone is pushing its limits like mine is, remember that instead of clearing all the space it’s asking for, you can plug it in to your computer and update through iTunes instead, requiring vastly less free space on your device.  When installing, it’s best to NOT enable iCloud Drive just yet…you’ll need to do so for all of your Apple devices simultaneously, and that just won’t be possible on your Mac until Yosemite is released in late October.  Resist the urge and move on!

I’m not going to get into all the details of what changed…I expect you’ve probably already read about that in the past week.  I’ll just focus on what stood out to me.  You’ll find the UI familiar; most of the changes are under the skin.  The mail app has nice swipe features for marking a message as read/unread (swipe right) or flagging (swipe left a little bit) or deleting (swipe left more).   I like the ‘hey Siri’ feature…yeah it’s creepy that she’s always listening but is handy, especially in the car…though this only works if it’s plugged in to power.  I wonder how the AppleWatch will implement this…always on, or twist wrist to activate, something like that?  Anyway.  Cool feature.  Family sharing in App Store is something I’m really looking forward to once I upgrade my wife and daughter’s devices to iOS8.  The Health app looks cool….but so far, Withings has not updated their app to share health data with that, so it’s kinda useless for me.  No word from Withings if/when they’ll be doing this, but I expect so…or else they’ll be losing users!

One aspect of the photos app scares me a bit…I have a ton of pictures on my iPhone, but there’s no longer a ‘camera roll’ to view them all.  Now there’s a ‘recently added’ album, but to see the older ones, I need to go to ‘photos’ and scan through them by year.  Which I guess is OK…just different.  Considering how infrequently I’d access those older pictures…no big deal.  It’ll be nice once that’s better integrated with the photo collections on my Mac…which I don’t think will truly be awesome until the new Photos app for OS-X is released sometime early in 2015.

Lifehacker has a cool list of lesser-known iOS8 features here.  Such as, battery usage statistics, and a grayscale mode.

So that’s it for now…but I expect I’ll have more to say once I get my new iPhone6 on Friday!

Apple Watch

watchWell, no surprise that Apple unveiled the Apple Watch today…but I was a bit surprised at how watch-like it looks. I really expected (hoped?) Apple would branch out and reinvent the wrist-worn device, but they’ve gone a fairly conservative route with styling and focused on software and usability instead.  Which, in hindsight, I shouldn’t be surprised about.  The watch isn’t shipping until early 2015, and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what it can do.  I think it’ll get a lukewarm reception overall, though when compared to the other recent entries in the marketplace (like the Moto360), it’s one of the better devices on the market.  It does seem to offer some slick software features though..for example, if a friend texts you with an ‘either-or’ question, the software will recognize that and offer those two options as replies ready to send with a tap.  I look forward to learning more about the Apple Watch over the coming months.  In the meantime, check out the review at TechCrunch or the product page at Apple’s website for more info.

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