The Ride for Roswell; Together, We Can Help Find Cancer Cures and Save Lives

I never post to this blog about personal issues. Posts are usually related to LQ, Linux or Open Source. The truth is, I’m a pretty private person. That means I’m stepping a bit outside of my comfort zone with this post, but it’s for a cause that’s extremely important to me. This June I’ll be participating in the Ride for Roswell, a bike race that helps support the cutting-edge research and patient care programs that benefit the 31,000 patients who turn to Roswell Park for hope. From my donation page:

Cancer is a disease that has impacted myself and my family a great deal. I’m participating in the Ride for Roswell in memory of my grandmother (whom cancer took far too soon) and my mother (who was able to beat cancer with the help of Roswell). I myself am genetically predisposed to get a certain cancer. I know this because of Roswell Park; and because of Roswell Park, I am not afraid. The cutting-edge research that Roswell does, coupled with the top notch patient care they provide, offers hope to many against an insidious disease that has taken far too many lives. With your donation and facilities such as Roswell Park, I’m confident that, together, we can help find cancer cures and save lives.

I know people have a tendency to speak in platitudes when it comes to cancer. In this case, however, we can make a difference. We can be the change we want to see in the world. We can win.

When making donations, I know two things that are very important to me are how responsible the organization I’m donating to is with my donation and how transparent they are with where that donation goes.  The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation has traditionally been counted among the most responsible charities by the national rating agency Charity Navigator. Financial Health and Accountability / Transparency are the two criteria used by Charity Navigator to give the Roswell Park Alliance it’s top rating.

I know that we’re in difficult fiscal times, but any amount helps. Please visit my donation page and give, if you’re able. If you’re not able, I appreciate you reading my story.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer Review

This review was originally done for Bad Voltage, but I figured it may also be of interest to my general readers.

As I mentioned in the season one, episode four “Open Source Health” segment, I’m someone who makes a concerted effort to stay relatively healthy. Part of that means exercising regularly and being cognizant of my eating habits, but as an Open Source tech guy, I’m someone who prefers to make empirical decisions. I like data. I like being able to spot trends and from there see if I can find causation. Unfortunately, I’m not dedicated enough to regularly weigh myself, write it down manually and then start graphing that data. Enter the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer, which is an Internet connected Smart Scale. A few seconds after stepping on the scale, you’ll know your body weight, BMI, fat-lean ratio and heart rate. It even tracks air quality, carbon dioxide levels and temperature. That’s just the beginning, though. Moments later, all the data is synced and available online in the Health Mate dashboard. From that dashboard you can view a variety of graphs and trends, see how you’re progressing toward goals that you’ve set and see how you compare to normal ranges for your body type. You can also access the data via both iOS and android apps. Armed with this data it’s easy to spot that your recent trip to Los Angeles for SCaLE may have caused you to put on a pound or two, or that giving up a certain product after a certain date actually has paid dividends. If you need a bit of an extra motivator or are just the attention seeking type, you can even automatically post your data to Facebook and twitter. The scale supports multiple users, identifying different users by weight, with a clever system for choosing between users with similar weights.

If that’s all you use the Smart Body Analyzer for, I’d already consider it an extremely useful device. Especially if it actually motivates you to adhere to the fitness goals you’ve set for yourself. But, once you’re using the Health Mate dashboard, you’ll find that it also integrates with other Withings products. Add the Pulse Activity Tracker, for example, and you’ll get sleep cycle analysis along with steps taken, calories burned, elevation climbed and distance traveled throughout the day. Additional data sources aren’t locked into Withings products, however. With over 100 supported 3rd party apps you can add information from RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, Fitbit and many more. This allows you to form a fairly comprehensive view of your overall life.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? The Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer is a great way to track and monitor a large number of health-related metrics. While expensive for a scale, in my opinion $150 is a small price to pay for a device that is easy to setup, easy to use on a daily basis and provides such a plethora of health related data.


Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 11: Internet of Thugs

Myself, Stuart Langridge, The Invisible and Inaudible Ghost of Lunduke, and Jono Bacon present a new Bad Voltage, in which we discuss:

  • Our new series, Breaking Down The Bullshit where we delve into the current buzzwords and trends and determine if they are all hype or have substance. In this show, we discuss the Internet Of Things: crock of doo-doo or the future of technology?
  • Jeremy reviews the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer and we discuss it and the notion of measuring your body to get fit
  • Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media joins us to discuss print media, free culture, publishing, the Internet, privacy, and where the future is taking us
  • Jeremy and Jono saw Lawrence Lessig keynote recently, and we all discuss whether his ambitions of ridding governments of corruption is in any way possible
  • We talk about Bad Voltage community goings-on, on the forum, the chat channel, such as selfie contests, gaming servers, Bad Voltage apps and more!

Listen to: 1×11: Internet of Thugs

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a new project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.


Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 10: Midnight Throne Travels

Good Listening, Bad voltage

Myself, Stuart Langridge, Bryan Lunduke, and Jono Bacon present a new Bad Voltage, in which we discuss:

  • Tech conferences — which ones are good, which ones are not, and why?
  • Desktop machines versus laptops, and a review of Stuart’s new gorgeous desktop computer from PC Specialist
  • Whistleblowing. In the light of the Snowden and Manning revelations, is whistleblowing a good idea, what’s available to protect whistleblowers from problems, and do we need to protect against those motivated by malice?
  • Miguel de Icaza, head of Xamarin and past founder of the Gnome and Mono projects, talks about why he was singled out as a “traitor”, what he’s doing now, and how to best work in the open source world
  • The winners in the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition! See the forum for more details and all the entrants

Listen to: 1×10: Midnight Throne Travels

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a new project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.


Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 9: The Starting Pitstop

Myself, Stuart Langridge, Bryan Lunduke, and Jono Bacon wend their troublesome ways down the road of:

  • We weigh in on the upstart/systemd brouhaha in Debian and discuss what happened, why it happened, and whether it was a good thing or not.
  • Bryan reviews the Lenovo Miix 2 tablet and we get into the nitty gritty of what you can do with it.
  • We take a trip down memory lane about how we each got started with Linux, which distributions we used, and who helped us get on our journey.
  • We take a recap and look at community feedback about guns, 3D printing, predictions, Bad Voltage gaming, the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition and more, all making an appearance.

I think Bad Voltage continues to progress nicely and this is probably my second favorite show to date (it may be difficult to surpass 1×07: Life On Mars in our first season, but we’ll certainly try).

Listen to: 1×09: The Starting Pitstop


Happy New Year & Browser and OS stats for 2013

I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year on behalf of the entire LQ team. 2013 has been another great year for LQ and we have quite a few exciting developments in store for 2014, including a major code update that we originally had planned for 2013. This year brought a new ChromeOS related site to The Questions Network, joining and LinuxExchange. In addition, LQ ISO recently surpassed 30,000,000 Linux downloads.

As has become tradition, here are the browser and OS statistics for the main LQ site for all of 2013 (2012 stats for comparison).

Firefox 41.75%
Chrome 40.43%
Internet Explorer 9.63%
Safari 4.13%
Opera 2.02%
Android Browser 0.71%

Firefox usage (as a percentage) continues to decline at LQ, and it appears likely that it will be surpassed by Chrome next year. IE usage has fallen into a single digit percentage for the first time since we’ve posted the annual update.

Operating Systems
Windows 52.24%
Linux 34.77%
Macintosh 9.44%
Android 1.58%
iOS 1.31%

Linux usage is once again down slightly, as is Windows usage. Macintosh is slightly up and both Android and iOS have cracked into the single digit percentages.

I’d also like to take this time to thank each and every LQ member. You are what make the site great; without you, we simply wouldn’t exist. I’d like to once again thank the LQ mod team, whose continued dedication ensures that things run as smoothly as they do. Don’t forget to vote in the 2013 Members Choice Awards , which recently opened.


Google Nexus 5 Review

This review was originally done for Bad Voltage, but I figured it may also be of interest to my general readers.

In this episode I’m going to review the recently released Nexus 5 phone, manufactured by LG. While the 5 in the product name is a reference to the device’s nearly 5 inch screen, it’s also the 5th iteration of the Google Nexus line (the predecessors being the HTC Nexus One, Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the LG Nexus 4). The exterior of the Nexus 5 is made from a polycarbonate shell, unlike the Nexus 4, which used a glass-based construction. At 5.42 inches tall and 2.7 inches wide, it’s a big phone but is shaped to feel smaller than it looks. It’s surprisingly light for its size, at only 4.6oz, and is 8.6 millimeters thick. The phone feels a bit more solid than a Samsung Galaxy S4, but sitting next to an HTC One it looks a bit, well, plain. But being flashy or ostentatious was never Google’s goal with the Nexus line. It was to showcase the unbridled, unadulterated and bloatware free vanilla Google Android experience. And the phone’s 445 pixel per inch, 4.95-inch, 1080p IPS screen helps a great deal in doing that. At the time of this review the Nexus 5 was the only phone officially running Android’s latest version: Kit Kat. And that’s a big part of the Nexus experience and something no other phone is going to offer. Manufacturers often take many months to port new versions of Android to existing handsets and in some cases ports you think will come never do. Even the new Google Play edition of phones will likely never receive updates as quickly as the Nexus line. If that’s important to you, most of this review probably doesn’t matter. Get yourself a Nexus 5. It’s hands down the best Nexus phone to date. On that note, Kit Kat is the best Android version to date as well, and is a fairly significant change from previous versions of the software. It’s sleeker, cleaner, more refined and more modern looking while being considerably more responsive. Google Search and Google Now are integrated much more seamlessly than in previous versions. And while I’m not personally a fan of Hangouts replacing SMS and MMS, one nice thing about Android is that you can easily change that.

Now, back to the phone itself. Some good: The quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2G of RAM means that the phone is astonishingly fast. By far the fastest phone I’ve used to date. The display is absolutely gorgeous. The battery life has also been better than most Android phones I’ve used. The  overall build quality of the phone is high and the form factor is extremely usable. The Nexus experience is also difficult to beat. Some bad: While battery life has been better, it’s still fairly unpredictable at times. The camera is probably the weakest part of the phone and is considerably worse than other flagship offerings. That said, Google claims that much of the issue is software related so we may see some marked improvement here. The speaker, while fairly loud, is also frustratingly distorted at times. While I like the overall form factor of the phone, it is quizzical that they chose to give it such a large bottom bezel, especially considering the phone has only software buttons. The lack of an SD card slot is also disappointing.

So, what’s the Verdict? If you want the Nexus experience or would like to buy an off contract phone, at $349 for the 16GB model and $399 for the 32GB model I think the Nexus 5 is going to be impossible to beat. I’m certainly extremely happy with the device myself. That said if you’re in a position where you have to buy a phone on contract, the HTC One (which I’ve seen as low as $75 with a 2 year contract) or possibly the Samsung Galaxy S4 are probably better options.



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