Fitbit ChargeHR Review

On review here is Fitbit’s ChargeHR activity tracker, one of its most popular models which provides heart rate monitoring in addition to steps taken, calories burnt and eyes shut. Designed for “active fitness”, it’s aimed at those people who take control of their fitness level rather than simply walking 10,000 steps. That’s me then. On a good day. Let’s take a look.

You can watch the unboxing and setup video above, though what you don’t see is that I completely destroyed the box getting the tracker and accessories out because you’re supposed to open the bottom not the top. Doh! Fitbit, you need “Open other end” printed on the top. Inside the box is the Fitbit ChargeHR, a Bluetooth dongle, a charging cable and small instruction booklet that directs you to the Fitbit site for more information. The dongle is only required for syncing to a PC.

Fitbit Charge HR box


The ChargeHR is available in six colours; black, blue, teal, plum, tangerine and pink. As you’ll see from the pictures, I had the teal one, which was fine when I was exercising but I did feel a little self-conscious wearing it with a suit at work. Unlike the Alta and Flex range, Fitbit Charge HR stepsthere’s no switching round of bands, so buy a colour you’re comfortable with. The ChargeHR band comes in three sizes, small, large and extra large, though the XL size can only be bought through Small is 13.7 cm–15.7 cm, large is 15.7 cm–19.3 cm and extra-large is19.3 cm–22.1 cm. Fitbit provide a handy sizing chart here. The ChargeHR has a proper watch-style buckle for the band, rather than the push through style of the Flex.

Getting started is easy. Charge the ChargeHR with the supplied cable, install the app on a smartphone or tablet, register if you aren’t already with Fitbit, follow the pairing instructions and job done. Now all you have to do is some exercise!

The ChargeHR is a extremely easy to use as there’s only one button which is situated on the left side of the unit. Pressing the button cycles through time, steps, heart rate, distance, calories, stories climbed and next alarm. For each statistics, there’s a little graphic followed by the number – footprints for steps, a heart for pulse and so on.

The main differentiator of the ChargeHR is the heart rate tracking. I don’t know much about the science but it appears to use a couple of greenish LEDs on the back of device to measure the pulse. The ChargeHR measures the pulse every second under normal circumstances, but when it detects exercise, it ups the data rate for real-time information so you can keep your pulse in the zone.

The charging port is visible on the back in the picture. Charging typically takes less than hour for a couple of days wear.

Fitbit Charge HR sensors

Clever as the ChargeHR is, it’s only once you start looking at the data generated that you really start to get benefit from the tracker. The Fitbit app can provide graphs and charts for most metrics. Here are a few showing steps, resting heart rate and sleep. I didn’t wear the ChargeHR every night, hence why there’s some missing data. Activity can be reviewed, giving heart rate zones – peak, cardio, fat burning – exercise duration and max heart rate. There’s lots of useful info.

Fitbit Steps Fitbit HR Fitbit Sleep

If you’re using a PC rather than a smartphone or tablet, Fitbit provide a web-based portal that provides similar information and analysis. For the really serious fitness fans, $50 per annum gets Premium privileges and extra analysis (which I didn’t investigate).

The ChargeHR does vibrating alarms too which is very handy if you need to get up without your bedside alarm waking your significant other. The alarm is set via the app and then sync’d to the tracker. I like this, though it’s not exclusive to the ChargeHR.

As expected in this day and age, there’s a social element too. You can add friends who also have Fitbits (of whatever variety) and see a leaderboard of steps taken each week. You can also earn badges for steps taken per day and lifetime achievements – I’ve a Nile badge for 6,649 lifetime kilometres.

I’ve had the ChargeHR for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been wearing it as much as I can. Sometimes I have to wear my Fitbit Zip on my belt when a teal bracelet wouldn’t be appropriate. Fortunately the Fitbit app (at least on Android) allows cross-syncing, so if you do 1,000 steps on one device and 1,000 on another, both will show 2,000 after a sync (or two). I like that feature as it lets me wear the Fitbit that suits my day.

Overall, I feel Fitbit have slightly stolen my thunder here, as the ChargeHR is being phased out and replaced by the Charge 2, but this could be an opportunity to get an excellent tracker for less money. Although officially priced at a penny under GB£120, it’s widely available for £89.99, even in shops such as PC World. The Charge 2 is currently £129.99, so there’s an effective saving of £40.

Thanks to Fitbit for supplying the ChargeHR for review.

Microsoft begins rolling out an update to Windows 7 and 8, removes the get Windows 10 message

getwindows10Despite seemingly endless complaints from customers, it still isn’t gone even though the free period has passed. Now the company is finally relenting and removing the nagware from both Windows 7 and 8.x.

Let’s face it, you’re either already on Windows 10 or you’re sticking with version 7. people never saw much middle ground with 8.x. Now those sticking with any older version will no longer need to periodically curse and close that window., and it only took until two months after the offer ended.

Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) article 3184143 can be checked for more information. If you choose to ignore the update then it’s still possible to get the free upgrade if you’ve had a change of heart.

Complaints about the “feature” have trailed off in recent times, though some people are likey nagged by it. A response received by Mary Jo Foley read simply:

“The Get Windows 10 (GWX) application was designed to make the Windows 10 upgrade process easy for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 customers for the one year free upgrade offer which ended July 29th. Beginning on September 20th, the Get Windows 10 app and all other updates related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer will be removed from Windows 7 and 8.1 customer’s devices. Beyond the statement above, the company has nothing more to share.”

Amazon Kindle (2016) Review

Amazon Kindle LogoEbooks and ereaders have come a long way since I first purchased novels from Peanut Press to read on my Palm III. Neither Peanut Press or Palm are in existence today – the former eventually disappeared into Barnes and Noble, and the latter was wasted by HP – but nearly two decades on, ebooks are part of everyday life, largely thanks to Amazon and the Kindle. On review here is Amazon‘s latest iteration of its entry level Kindle. Released back in June, this is the 8th generation of ereader but brings the much-missed white finish back to the family…and that’s what we have on review here. Let’s take a look.


The Kindle comes in Amazon’s easy-to-open packaging. In the box there’s only the Kindle and a USB-to-microUSB cable plus a few bits of paper. Taking the Kindle out of the clear plastic wrapper, it remains true to the form-factor. At 115 mm wide, 160 mm tall and only a smidge over 9 mm deep, there’s enough of a border round the 6″ screen to hold the ereader between thumb and forefinger. The case is a matt plastic with curved edges along with a microSD socket, power button and LED along the bottom edge. There’s some printing on the back and an embossed Amazon logo too. The matt finish helps with holding the Kindle as it’s not slippy at all.

Amazon Kindle with Box

Powering up the device, the Kindle takes the owner through the setup procedure, including connecting to wifi. The Kindle is usually preconfigured to the owner out-of-the-box so after running through a few pages of what’s on offer, his or her library will be on show on the home screen along with some “you might also likes”. There’s 4 GB of internal storage to keep books on the device which for an ereader is plenty of space.

The previous generation of Kindle introduced the touchscreen to the entry level model so there are no buttons to turn pages or go to the home screen. Tapping on a book or icon will open the selected thing but once in a book, the page is divided into three and tapping in the different areas generates different actions. Right side, next page; left side, previous page; top, menu options. The areas aren’t equal and the next page takes up around four-fifths of the page, from the bottom right. Generally the touching the screen works fine, but the back area on the left could do with being a little bigger – as man with fat fingers I did find that I needed to be fairly precise otherwise the book moved forward a page rather than back. It’s pity there’s not an option to adjust where the dividing line is on the page as I would prefer the split to more 50:50.

Amazon Kindle 2016

The eInk screen is the main differentiator between the entry level model and the next one up, the Paperwhite. To start with, the eInk screen is 167 ppi which is about half the 300 ppi of the Paperwhite, and more significantly, this Kindle is not backlit, so there’s no reading while the light’s out. As with all other ereaders, reading in sunlight is glare-free with the eInk screen. Page turns are nippy and the screen refreshes cleanly. As the screen is now a touchscreen, entering text is much easier with a tappable on-screen keyboard displayed whenever needed.

For the visually impaired, the Kindle supports VoiceView which will read books to the owner via a Bluetooth headset as there’s no headphone jack. It’s a bit convoluted to setup involving the power button and two fingers on the screen, which I understand might be easier for some who has a vision problem, but how hard would it have been to have an additional menu option for Bluetooth pairing? VoiceView is purely text-to-speech and won’t play music or audiobooks. Bah!

The Kindle software provides a number of “value-adds” over a paper book, including bookmarking and search features. Amazon’s X-Ray provides more information on the book, plot and people, and GoodReads book recommendations are prominent. Inevitably, social media now features with sharing to Facebook and Twitter.

Battery life is “weeks” and certainly in my use, it took a good deal of page-turning to bring the battery down. Not sure you’d get a whole week’s worth of holiday reading out of a single charge but if you’re bringing a charger for your mobile phone, it’s probably not a problem (unless you have an Apple iPhone).

As an Amazon product, the Kindle is designed to encourage purchases from the Amazon store so getting ebooks from other sources onto your Kindle can be tricky. If you want to borrow ebooks from your local library, check compatibility as I think Overdrive only supports Kindle books in the USA.

The 2016 and 8th generation of Kindle continues Amazon’s gradual refinement of the ereader. With the touchscreen introduced last time, there’s no big headline change over the previous model other than being neater and lighter, though the inclusion of Bluetooth perhaps hints at future features. And there’s a white version. At a penny under GB£60 with “Special Offers” and £70 without ads, the 2016 Kindle is an easy buy that’s unlikely to disappoint.

Thanks to Amazon for the loan of the Kindle.

iPhone lockscreen can be bypassed for $100

iPhone 5c
iPhone 5c

Been locked out of your iPhone? There’s a way to bypass that lock screen, but it will cost you a bit of money. It’s still going to be a lot cheaper than buying a new phone or taking the queue of the FBI, who paid $1.3 to have the phone of the San Bernardino shooter unblocked. That should renew the long standing debate over government spending that has raged for years.

Why? Because this tool will cost $100, or about the same as The Pentagon paid for a hammer. Report from BBC News states “The BBC News report is based upon a newly-published paper by Dr Sergei Skorobogatov, who describes how the iPhone 5c’s NAND flash chip could be removed, and its data cloned onto another chip to bypass the limit on passcode retries…with no risk of the original data being wiped.

The method requires NAND mirroring which can be accomplished with some cheap hardware. According to security researcher Graham Cluley “Zdziarksi found that he was able to enter multiple passcodes, without any risk that the device would wipe itself automatically or introduce any additional time delays between unlocking attempts

The FBI actually threatened Apple to unlock that phone when there were already rumors that this method could b used and now it’s been proven in a new video of the researcher doing it. You can view the video below.

GNC #1147 Facebook Purgatory Lifted

After 80 hours of Facebook Puragtory I was granted access to my account again after I provided 5 forms of ID. Totally crazy I talk about it at length on the show today. Big thanks to anyone that may have intervened.

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InvoiceNinja Launches Native iPhone App

InvoiceNinja LogoAs a freelance human, I have to track my own time when working on projects for clients. This is crucial if I want to get paid for the work I’ve done (and I definitely do want to get paid). I’ve explored a number of different systems for doing this. And while I have yet to find one that I absolutely love, the one I’ve been using recently (and like for the most part) is InvoiceNinja. It’s an open source platform for freelancers to track projects and generate invoices for clients. I’ve been accessing InvoiceNinja using a web browser on my Mac, as that’s really the only InvoiceNinja interface that’s been available. But that changed recently when InvoiceNinja announced the release of a native iPhone app.

InvoiceNinja’s iPhone app gives users access to all of the platform’s features, including time tracking, invoicing, and more. Having the ability to use the app on the go should make it easier for freelancers who often work at remote locations where they may not have access to a computer. The InvoiceNinja service itself works on a freemium model, with a basic free tier along with paid options for premium features. The new iPhone app is a free download from the App Store. InvoiceNinja has stated that the company is working on developing a native Android app. No ETA yet as to when the Android version will be released.

Locked out of Facebook

So this morning I got locked out of Facebook for reasons unknown. They asked for a security check and I had to provide a Government ID!

During the security check, where I provided my ID to get my account unlocked, they said my DOB did not match. I think when I set my FB account up years and years ago I used an alternative birthday, as I did not trust the security there.

So now it appears I may have lost my account! For reason yet unknown to me. I have thousands of FB friends and an active FB profile where I have done live streaming etc.

This came at a critical time we where sharing info from my mother-in-laws death with relatives. Now Facebook has cut that critical flow of information off. Serious bastards.

So if anyone has a friend at FB, I would appreciate a hand in getting my account unlocked. Sending them 3 forms of ID has not helped.

While its Facebooks right to lock me out because I did not use my correct birthday at least let me update it. For Christ sake the account is not fake.

I am sure I am dealing with a robot at this point, so maybe someone with a pulse will see this. My dead Facebook page is at

The real in the flesh Todd Cochrane, podcaster, blogger, podcast hall of fame member and I thought good guy.

GNC #1146 Ohana Time

Ohana No tech this show, I take sometime to share the details of Shoko’s mom passing and what has been happening here. Apologize for no tech news tonight, just did not have the heart for it.

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Plex DVR for Capturing Over-the-Air TV Now in Beta

Plex logoThe ever-versatile media-management Plex app launched a new DVR service earlier this month. Plex DVR works with any standard HDTV antenna and the SiliconDust HDHR series of digital recorders to create a true DVR experience on your favorite screen. Just use the Plex app to tell the hardware which shows you’d like it to capture, and the system will record those shows for free from local over-the-air TV signals. If you’ve been waiting to cut the cord to cable or satellite TV, Plex DVR might be just what you need to finally make that move.

Here are some Plex DVR highlights:

  • Full license from Gracenote to help pull in the necessary meta data for your DVR’d shows. This information is tailored to your geographic location to make it as accurate as possible.
  • Subscribe to TV shows and never miss an episode.
  • Easily follow your favorite sports teams as Plex DVR records all of their televised games.
  • Sync DVR recordings to mobile devices or the cloud. Use Plex mobile apps to watch DVR shows on any device, no matter where you are.
  • Keep a fixed number of unwatched episodes for a show, or only recent episodes. Plex DVR also has the ability to sort individual shows by newest or oldest episodes and list all episodes at once regardless of season.

In order to use Plex DVR, you’ll need a digital TV antenna, a SiliconDust HDHR series digital recorder, a Plex Pass subscription, and you’ll need to download and install the DVR beta client. Plex is hoping to add the DVR service to more HDTV recording devices in the future.

Did Swatch Kill The iWatch?

iswatchIn news reported by the BBC, it seems that Swatch‘s opposition to Apple‘s application for an iWatch trademark in the UK resulted Apple’s smartwatch simply being branded “Apple Watch”.  Overall, the ruling from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office upheld Swatch’s complaint that iWatch was too similar to iSwatch and Swatch, and shouldn’t be used for watches. Although we can’t be privy to the internal thinking of Apple, one could infer that the inability to claim the iWatch trademark in key markets back in 2014 killed iWatch in favour of Apple Watch when announced in 2015.

The whole ruling is here, but aside from the trademark evidence, decision-making and ruling, there’s some interesting commentary on the use of shell company registrants, in this case BrightFlash USA LLC to hide the actions of Apple. If I read the judgement correctly (and I’m certainly not a lawyer), Swatch had tried to accuse Apple of “bad faith” by using BrightFlash to register the trademark, but the registrar dismisses the complaint and Swatch has to to pay Apple GB£2,767 on balance. You win some, you lose some.