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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

iPhone X First Impressions.

When the iPhone X (aka, iPhone 10) was announced a few months ago I wasn’t all that interested it was rather expensive.

Then my phone contact expired and my carrier offered me one for £15 a month more than a IPhone 8. That seems much more reasonable. After all, it’s the computer I use most in my life.

Hardware impressions.

I had the phone a few days before I had time to swap my SIM across. In that time I mostly used it for watching Netflix!

The screen is stellar. Literally, stellar. When showing black the screen is as dark as the night. The extra size is nice but the black levels are more immediately impressive.

I was a bit skeptical of loosing the home button but that’s worked fine. It took about a day to adjust but since then its been fine.

I like the glass case. It feels tactile and grippy. I haven’t smashed an iPhone yet, so hopefully this one will be okay… it’s a bit of a worry.

The final hardware which impressed me was the camera. My iPhone 6S was the small model. This is my first phone with the dual lens camera and physical zoom. This is by far the best camera I’ve ever owned.

Software.

Software is a little less impressive but not bad.

Face ID seems okay. I type my password more than I used too and it’s a bit annoying sometimes. It’s only been a few days so perhaps that will improve.

iOS11 In general is good. It feels very smooth and I like the new design language. Big easy to read headers is perfect for me.

There’s also some nice small details. I like the new password manager, it works for apps and websites, plus its easy to find in settings.

Final thoughts.

The iPhone X feels worth the £15 per month it’s costing and so far it’s been a welcome change.

Face ID is a bit of an open story. I’ll have to see how it goes over the next few weeks before I reach a conclusion

Overall I really like this phone and It feels like a good bet for the next year or two.

Published: 11 December 2017 | Categories: Permalink

Velopark Stratford Mountain Biking Review

This weekend a couple of freinds and me made a return to the Velopark mountain bike trails at the Olympic park. We went about a month ago and loved it so we decided to go back.

After that i wrote a short review on my other site, but now i have been twice and explored a bit more i wanted to give a more detailed review. Hopefully this will be helpful to other riders who are looking to go for the first time.

Getting there, paying, rental equipment.

The velopark is in stratford which is about 10 miles from where i live. The first time we went by train and took our own bikes, but this weekend the trains where cancelled for improvement works so we drove and hired bikes for the day.

Once you get there you go to the reception area and pay the £5 fee to ride. We also paid £12 to rent equipment (but more on that later).

Once we where paid up and disclaimers where signed we went to the equipment hire stall and picked up out rental bikes.

The staff ran through a quick setup with us and then left us too it. Just as we left we made sure to put the car registration numbers into the terminal so we didnt get charged for parking!

The trails.

After we got our kit we ventured out to the trails themselves.

We followed the path down and under a bridge and then the path stops and the trails begin.

All the trails are man made little ribbons of gravel. They vary between blue (easy), red (intermediate) and black (advanced).

The blue trails are the simplest and fastest. We normally warm up on the blue trail which leads off too the left from the bridge and takes us around the back of the velopark. Its got a few berms and jumps but is very mellow.

Most of the trails flow well at the velopark, but from time to time they take sudden turns due to the space limits.

The gravel surfaces don’t offer much grip. It’s easy to wash out into a corner if you push too hard. When the speeds get higher the bike is pretty much always sliding around under you. It certainly keeps things interesting!

The red routes are more complex than the blue roots. Tougher climbs, sharper corners and bigger jumps.

Much like the blue trails they flow very well for a while then tend to include sudden turns with big rocks on the outside. Compared to a more natural riding spot the sudden turns are annoying as they break the flow, but given the space they had they are good enough.

The red routes start to also incorporate the super bumper concrete slab based “technical” parts. In many ways these sections resemble a really badly laid path.

The red routes are certainly fun. Once you know the route they take you can start to pick up lots of speed.

If your looking for something more demanding, then there are a few black parts.

The black parts take the paving slab based technical parts of the red trails and make them more extreme.

I have mountain biked lots in the past so i have ridden most of the black trails. Generally speaking taking them at speed and carefully picking a line is enough to clear them without much issue.

I enjoy the black parts, they keep it interesting, but they dont really add a huge amount to the bike park. Getting into the black stuff often involves sudden sharp bends so it’s often more fun to just ride the red parts quicker.

The one black part i really enjoyed is the long black decent. It runs beside the road from the top. Getting into the black part is a horrible sharp rocky climb, but once into that section it flows really well.

The hire bikes.

Today we hired bikes instead of using our own. It was good to compare how the bikes faired.

The hire bikes are Whyte 605 models in bright green. They are fun and competent if not spectacular. They roll well and are setup to cover distances.

Like most XC focused bikes they have long stems and bring the rider forward over the front wheel. It’s not too extreme, but it does make the bikes harder to handle over jumps. The bikes don’t have the “planted” secure feeling of my Marin with its longer fork and more relaxed geometry.

You can ride everything on the rental bikes. I made it down every black trail i tried on them, however it’s pushing the bikes hard and things like the fork become overwhelmed. The black trails are possible, but you need to pick lines very carefully.

The rental bikes make sense for the park. They cover most of what people will do.

The rental bikes are also really cheap. At £12 for the day they do a good enough job to be a viable option if getting my own bike to the park is going to be difficult.

Final thoughts.

All in i had a really fun morning. We spent about 3 hours at the park mostly lapping the red trails with the odd run on the blue.

For the £5 entry fee the park is great value. It gives a great taster for mountain biking while still being affordable and easy to get too.

I am looking forward to going back in a few weeks time. I will probably take my own bike, but i wont be too upset if i cant.

Published: 27 August 2017 | Categories: Permalink

WWDC 2017 Wishlist.

It’s the night before WWDC so it’s time to make a little wishlist. Who knows what Apple will announce, but here are a few of the things i would love to see.

New MacBooks.

I’m not in the Market for a MacBook right now, but it would still be good to see refreshed MacBooks with Intel’s Latest Kaby Lake CPU’s. In recent years Apple has been slow updating the Mac line so two updates in 6 months would be a strong return to form.

I would be super interested in an ARM MacBook or a Mac mini update (in any way!), however both are unlikely. Here’s hoping!

New iPad Pro 10.5”

I really like my work iPad. So much i brought one of my own! Like with the Macs i’m not in the market myself but seeing updates is good. I am curious how apple sells the 10.5” size. Will it replace or augment the 9.7 and 12 inch models? Will be interesting to find out.

h3 Other stuff.

Updates to watchOS and tvOS would be nice but i dont have many specific wishes. For watchOS the ability to sync podcasts and audiobooks would be nice, but i suspect we’re a hardware generation or two before Apple makes that happen. If only because the sync is so slow it makes for a terrible user experience.

tvOS isn’t of any interest to me. I don’t need another box in my lounge for a TV i hardly watch.

Final thoughs.

I hope WWDC has some suprises. It’s been quiet on the rumors so hopefully theres something entirely unexpected on the way. I look forward to finding out.

Published: 4 June 2017 | Categories: Permalink

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