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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Technophobes Beware!

I want to begin by saying that I've started watching Linus Tech Tips, Techquickie, and TechLinked on youtube. He is now my new favorite person. I'm not nearly as advanced in tech as he is, but he's hella fun to watch anyway and extremely entertaining. I've learned a lot already, and I've got like, 5 years of backlogged videos to catch up on.

Tech Tips is more like reviews, typical unboxings, crazy stuff like "we overclocked everything, even the fans!", while Techquickie is more about learning the basics of just about every tech subject under the sun, from how wifi works to an explainer on video file formats etc. Lots of good information there. TechLinked is just tech news, but so much more entertaining. Anyway, that's neither here nor there, but I wanted to mention it and set up some links in case anyone was interested. 

I'm actually writing this because his videos are the reason that I decided to bite the bullet and update some hardware on my PC. I had a few reasons for doing so. You see, a while back I bought a 250GB SSD that I intended to use as my Windows C: drive and allow the larger, 500GB SSD to be the secondary drive that holds all my programs and stuff.

[FYI, I separate these things in case my boot drive were to crash or get infected, I wouldn't end up losing much; all my programs would still be in tact. So I didn't want to just hoard everything on a single drive]

My first mistake was buying a Seagate drive instead of a Samsung one I guess, because basically right out of the box it didn't work right. It seemed to be fine for storing information but something about the boot sectors were corrupted and it would not load Windows correctly or install the million-and-one updates it needed for the fresh install. I tried to RMA it back to Newegg but apparently because I didn't have the original box they said screw you and sent it back to me. So, lesson 2 learned I guess. On the plus side, I was able to use it as my secondary drive to store my programs, but at what cost? I mean, it was already partially broken. The last thing I wanted was for the whole drive to fail. That would suck. 

So as time went on, my "Damaged Goods" D: drive began to fill its 250GB pretty quickly and I was beginning to run out of space, so when I learned about m.2 and NVMe from Techquickie, I did a little more research on the subject. 

I had recently upgraded my cpu/mobo/RAM/psu and so I had the ability to run m.2 drives now, and would not only be able to completely remove a sata cable but also an entire set of power cables from my case (thanks to my newly acquired semi-modular power supply). Also, thanks to the m.2 standard of bypassing the sata cable limitation, I could possibly be able to eek out some extra rendering performance for my videos.

So when I got my fancy new Samsung 970 EVO NVMe m.2 250GB SSD, I replaced my C: drive with it and then cloned my D: drive crap onto the old C: drive, and now this damaged Seagate SSD is sitting on my desk like an eyesore. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. It's unusable as a boot drive. Anybody want it for storage? lol

Anyway, so before I replaced the drive I ran a benchmark. I rendered a Good Eats Reloaded episode that I recorded using Bandicam, with Sony's Movie Studio Platinum. It took 31:08 minutes. After I installed the m.2 drive, I ran the test again.

27:22 minutes

Holy shit! Real world improvement! I am super excited. Now I'm hoping when I am finally able to upgrade my video card (I'm running an old Radeon Sapphire HD 7850 with 2GB of RAM) during Cyber Monday this year, I can possibly eek out a couple more minutes. We will see! 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What the Hell is Hi-Fi anyway?

I'm going to be comparing my Bose Spoundsport Wireless earphones ($150) to my Mpow Cheetah Wireless sport earphones ($23).

{"Mpow"? Never heard of them!} Exactly.

And you would think there would be no comparison. I mean c'mon. It's Bose.

But before I begin, full disclosure:

The Bose were free. Like, I found them on the ground kind of free. So, to be fair, they could be like, super old, possibly damaged, who knows. You think I'd just up and buy $150 earphones? HA.

The Fit
The Mpow have an over-the-ear design with their drivers kind of sitting over your ear at a downward angle, while the Bose have a little piece of silicone that fits inside your ear to help them stay put. The eartips on the Mpow are stiff, while the tips on the Bose are super soft and malleable. 

I have to give it to Bose for comfort. They are way more comfortable to wear over long periods than the Mpows. However, I think the Mpows stay better, and since they are both "sport", that kind of makes a big difference. Plus, the over-ear design reduces movement noise. 

The Wire
And on that note, the wire that connects the two sides are very different in each brand. In the Bose, the wire is soft and floppy and a little sticky. It reminds me of a wet spaghetti noodle, and it's super annoying because it sticks to your neck and they're impossible to properly fold up to put away. The Mpows, on the other hand, have a kind of weird pre-folded design like a Pretzel that you have to forcefully unwind when you want to use them. Even after using them for years, I still have to deduce how to unfold them each time and check to make sure I'm putting them in the right ears. But as annoying as that is, the wire is stiff and non-sticky, and barely noticeable on my neck. Plus, it springs back to that pretzel shape when you put them away.

Mpow wins this one.

Both units connect to my phone with no hassle, even on initial setup. The Bose talks to you (which is kind of creepy, actually) and tells you what it's connected to. The problem I have with them goes beyond a connection to my phone, however. It has a + and - on the wire that are inoperable for volume control. Now, to be fair, it may just be my unit. I mean, it's entirely possible that the person that owned them before me got all pissed when they stopped being able to control the volume of their music using the wire and tossed them on the ground. I mean, they did spend $150 on this shit lol. But it's also entirely possible that it may just be an iOS compatible device and I may not be able to control volume this way. Which is complete bullshit. I probably wouldn't be able to answer calls with it either. The Mpow has its volume control on the right driver. You can answer a phone call with it too. But you can't pause or skip any tracks, unfortunately. But as it stands, it at least works.

So another point goes to Mpow.

The moment you've all been waiting for. The Bose has to win this one, right? I mean, what else did I spend $150 for (hehehe) if not for the expensive drivers in the earbuds, amirite? 
Well hold your horses, buddy. It's not that simple. It's true that I'm not a true Hi-Fi aficionado. I don't spend the big bucks on my music tracks. (In fact, I don't spend any bucks on my music tracks). But I did want to truly put the Bose to the test to see what all these Hi-Fi shenanigans were about. I wanted to know if I, the lowly introvert*, could make out the difference between cheapo earbuds and a good quality pair. I even downloaded a couple of apps that would test the ranges of my earbuds. 
And the truth of the matter is, is that I couldn't. I believe the Bose has a lower bass range of an extra -5db before I stopped being able to hear it, but that was about it. I tried a couple of songs that had a good range of sounds (from Classical to Trance) but the only difference that I could discern was that the Bose pair are inherently quieter (as in, I had to turn them up a notch for the same sound volume as my Mpows). So that, coupled with the fact that I can't control the volume using the inline controls means that they're pretty worthless to me.

So who wins?

Actually, the super cheap and light wired ones I carry with me when my wireless ones run out of juice. Plugging those cheapies in gives me better sound than anything wireless that I could provide. But no really, the Mpows win hands down. It makes me really glad that I didn't actually spend $150 on these Bose ones, because I would have been sorely disappointed! 

*Yes I know that didn't make any sense. I did that on purpose.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Touring Seattle

Derek made a comment to me about the fact that I wanted to be a tourist in "my own city" [in Seattle, close enough], but I think my response should grace posters everywhere: "You've got to see it sometime". 

Maybe something a bit more eloquent is in order. Still the same in essence, though. Everyone is a tourist of their own city once. Eventually you will see the things and do the things, even if it takes years. And Seattle is such a large and daunting place. The traffic is a nightmare. The streets are crazy. And I can't stand driving in it - my anxiety goes through the roof. So, if it isn't within walking distance of the Link Light Rail Station - I've not seen or done it. But Derek has seen and done the things. And been an Uber driver all over it. So naturally, he was the perfect guide when we decided to hang out yesterday.

The first thing I did was on my own: Ride the Ducks. I know what you're thinking. I was gonna die. I don't blame you. Their reputation precedes them at this point. But that's exactly the reason I wanted to go. I wanted to do it before they um.. *cough* went out of business.

Let's cut to the chase. Was it worth $35? Not really. The guide was very entertaining, and of course driving into the water was pretty cool. But it's definitely more for the actual tourist and not the fake tourist like me. It was a neat experience though. I'm glad I still did it. 
We did get into a scrape, however. A car swerved a tad in the lane and because the duck boat is so big it takes up the whole lane. The car's back bumper tapped us, and we had to sit around for about 20 minutes while they exchanged information. The tour guide earned his tip from me right then.

Anyway, so after that, Derek was stuck in traffic coming down from Everett so I decided to cross another thing off my list: The Amazon Go Store. [for the uninitiated, I included a link explainer] Downloaded the Go app, walked in, checked out all the pricey stuff and decided on some Pumpkin Greek Yogurt. I had wandered into the original Go Store, so I ended up right next to the Amazon Spheres, and because I was within the Amazon "complex" (30 acres, I think?) it was set up for employees to grab food and eat it at a counter so I did so. They had microwaves and spoons and stuff. Pretty neat. The Spheres are pretty awesome too. It's too bad that you can't go inside without a tour appointment. 

 FYI, this pic is unedited because I'm too damn lazy for this shit today.

So I met up with Derek down there and we headed towards another place on my list: Cubes Baking Company. It's thanks to Evening Magazine that I even knew about any of these places. 

But on the way, we ran into Archie McPhee's, and had to stop. It wasn't on my list but it was on Evening Magazine! Fun store.

Anyway, when we got to Cubes, I had a snickerdoodle concha. It was delicious.

{Concha is a typical Mexican sweet bread. A concha consists of two parts, a sweet bread roll, and a crunchy topping. Conchas get their name from their round shape and the striped, broken "shell-like" appearance of their topping. Wikipedia}

But in this case, it was cubed. Because Cubes Baking Co.

After Cubes, we were within walking distance of another list item: Molly Moons Ice Cream. I settled for the coffee ice cream with fudge. It was too expensive. Good, but too much. I'll keep to Ice Cream Social in my neck of the woods.

Now that I was kind of full, we were going to find some stuff to do until I was ready for my dinner list item: Next Level Burger (I chose these places solely on the fact that they are not within walking distance of a Link station.) 

We went to Kerry park for some views (I had brought my camera), Denny Park for more views, drove around Magnolia for the pretty houses, and ended up at another very small park for another view of downtown. 

Across the street had been an old brick condo with a nice manicured area that I wanted to go take pictures of, and we found a Windemere open house at the complex. A unit was being shown!! We decided to join a pair already waiting to be let in so that they could see the place. 

Seattle: $450,000 for 550 sq feet with single pane windows and no parking spaces. But hey, it was across the street from a park with a view of downtown and brand new appliances. So... cool? 

After that, we drove to Alki beach and at this point it was close to sunset. We walked and I took pictures of the sunset and decided to cross yet another item off my list: Lime Bike!! They were all over the place at Alki so I rented an electric version for a few minutes. That was fun.

At this point we were both getting hungry so it was time to head up to Roosevelt for some Next Level. It was inside the Whole Foods (figures). They specialize in vegan burgers. I had my mushroom and quinoa burger with vegan cheese and tempeh bacon, which was mouth-wateringly delicious. Oh man, that burger was freaking GOOD. Next level for sure. I hope they expand southward. I would totes go there more often. 

After that, I told Derek to drop me off at the Starbucks Roastery so that I could cross another item off my list. We knew there would be no parking here so this is where we parted ways. By this time it was 8pm.
Let me tell you, this place is pinnacle hipster. I went to the very back, where they openly roast their beans and have the "Experience Bar" (I'm not kidding, this is what they call it). I tried the Brew Experience, where they offer the same roast brewed two ways, so I chose Starbucks's own "Clover Brew" [explainer link] and Pour Over. And believe it or not, I could taste the difference. It was subtle, but noticeable; and Clover tasted better: not as bitter.  I ended up with probably 16oz of black coffee total for $17 (oi) but I managed to drink it all. Black. 

YOLO, amirite?

I found a small batch roast of Barrel-Aged Whiskey Infused whole beans (with no price. If you have to ask, you can't afford it) and ordered a Cordusio to go, which ended up being like 6oz of espresso with some chocolate powder so I added sugar and milk because I was done YOLO'ing. 
And that was it. I walked back to the Link station and headed home. What a day! Crazy amazing though. Derek had fun too and we're gonna do it again sometime for sure.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

What the F is wrong with my car??

I need to find out if anyone can help me without having to spend an arm and a leg at the Chevy Dealership. I'm probably to the point where I'd have to spend $90 for a diagnostic and however much they wanna milk me for a computer reset that can only be done there, unless someone randomly reading this just happens to have run across this problem and might know what's up. 

So here's the sitch. I have a 2015 Chevy Sonic LTZ. The Infotainment center worked flawlessly up until about, oh I dunno, a year ago I guess (I bought it used). I play music with a usb stick. So basically what began happening with no provocation as far as I could tell, was that upon starting up my car, whenever it was done playing the song I had currently stopped at, it would start over at the beginning of the usb. The only way I could stop this from happening was if I pull up the song menu and manually select the next song on the list, and then it would continue playing from there.

Obviously this is not a big enough issue to pay Chevy to fix, hence my wish to ask around so see if anyone else knows how I might fix this issue. (And yes, I've tried to google this but it's kind of specific and I haven't been able to find this exact issue so far).

This is what I have tried:

  • Formatting the USB and reloading all of the music
  • Buying a different USB stick
  • Deleting the first song on the list (I was getting tired of hearing 30 Seconds to Mars every time I forgot to select the next song)
  • Discharging the battery to try and reset the system (I can't even tell you if this did anything)
  • Letting the battery completely drain out and jumping the car. Literally the only thing this reset was the average MPG. It didn't even reset the oil life. And when I plugged in the USB it started in the exact spot of the song I left off, and of course, went back to song #1 after).
  • Kicked the car in frustration (In order to discharge the battery, I had to leave the damn keys in the ignition with it on aux, otherwise it would go into self preservation. Fucking smart car.)
I even tried changing it to shuffle mode. This was kind of hilarious actually, because it takes about a minute to load the USB completely. So, when the song it's on is done early, it will STILL go back to song #1 on the usb, but I can't skip to the next song right away because it's not done loading the USB stick yet. So in essence, this is worse because then I HAVE to listen to the first song. In desperation, I made my absolutely favorite song song #1 by putting a 29 in front of it (ahead of 30 Seconds to Mars) just to stop me from going crazy. So at least I have that.

This is a stupidly important issue to me because I live in the city and literally everything I need, including work, is within a 10 minute drive or so. So I get maybe 3 songs out before I shut off my car and have to deal with this issue all the fucking time.

And please don't give me other options. Yes I KNOW I can play bluetooth music. It's a pain in the ass and not worth setting up for 5 minute drives. No I don't listen to the stupid radio. And no, I don't have a CD player and an aux port isn't worth the hassle either.

I'm under the assumption at this point that the infotainment center has a motherboard with memory chips and battery capacitors that hold onto all of this information regardless of the state of the car's battery. Which is great in theory, but kind of stupid right at this moment as I can't find any way to completely wipe and reset the system.

So, if ya'll have any ideas, PLEASE let me know. I've kind of given up at this point.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Washington State" Fair

Puyallup Fair. End of argument.

I haven't been to this fair since 2015. I find no reason to go every year, especially since admission is $11, parking is $15-$20, and I spend all my energy weaving through the mass of humanity to the point where I get tired of existing. I don't play the games, and I'm not into any of the rides.

But this year, it was a bit different. This year, there was a concert that I wanted to see: Gabriel Iglesias, aka Fluffy. 

I'll give credit where credit is due: my best friend Matty introduced me to Fluffy years ago with a Netflix special, and I've been pretty hooked ever since. He's one of those comedians that doesn't need to be vulgar and cuss every other word in order to be funny. He's a great storyteller, and uses his own life experiences to make jokes.

Buying a ticket to his comedy special came with a fair ticket, so I invited mom to come with me and hang out until the concert started at 7:30. This was gonna be a no-holds-bar fair experience. There were certain foods I wanted to try, and one particular ride I wanted to go on: The Extreme Scream. Why? I don't even know. I keep trying to do extreme stuff hoping to feel that "rush" that thrill seekers get when they do crazy stuff, but it never happens for me. I've done parasailing, zip lining, and a few tamer fair rides from years past, but all I ended up feeling was 

A. Annoyed that the view went by too quickly, 
B. It was fun for the first [5] minutes but now I'm over it and 
C. Shit, get me out of here.

(To be fair, zip lining only garnered feeling A)

So of course that ride (which costs $15) came first, before I decided to eat. And no, it was not fun, and not exciting. I wasn't scared while watching it from the ground, but once I was on it my heart rate picked up a bit. I've known this already but fun fact: I am definitely not a screamer. I did however, say "Oh shit" on my way up. And going back down was not at all pleasant due to the weightless feeling as I plummeted towards the earth. That ride is thankfully extremely short, and I couldn't be happier when it was finally over. My adrenaline had spiked, that was a fact. But instead of feeling a sense of joy or a rush, my body was shaking and I was breathing way too hard. I had tried to quickly teach mom how to record using my phone before I went on but um, come to find out that didn't work so I have nothing to show for my experience but the loud hydraulic whoosh sound that will now forever haunt my dreams. So, I think that finally settled it. I'm not an adrenaline junkie and I'm done trying to chase that feeling that others seem to get when they do crazy stuff. It's just not for me.

In other news, though, trying weird foods is quite fun and something I won't stop doing any time soon. So, the first thing on my agenda was 40 Below Joe's coffee Dippin Dots. As you're probably aware (maybe from all the news articles explaining how liquid nitrogen is unsafe for the tissues in your mouth due to the new fad called "Dragon's Breath") Dippin Dots are small bit of ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen. And coffee dippin dots are just that: a frozen latte. It was really good. The problem with dippin dots is that when something is chilled that low, the compounds become fairly flavorless to the tongue, so there wasn't much to it. But it was a nice novelty, and one with more than 1 shot of caffeine ta boot.

Next on my list was The Original House of Doughnuts. Nothing special here; I've had their doughnuts and they are simply the best around, save for Voodoo down in Oregon. Which brings me to why I wanted to go: They were serving a cereal doughnut. This is the best thing about Voodoo. They have cereal-topped doughnuts with icing that tastes like milk. Would OHD give me the same satisfaction as Voodoo?

Hell yes it does. A valid replacement for a doughnut shop too far away.

Mom and I did do some exploring around the fair, but she had already gone with her sister at the beginning of the month for the Chicago concert, so she'd seen it all already. We walked around Hobby Land, checked out the ducks and chickens, but not much else. There was one other place I wanted to try though, despite the fact that Extreme Scream basically soured my stomach for the whole day. Exotic Meats.

Yeah that's right, I'm turning into an Andrew Zimmern mini (Not really. The stuff he puts in his mouth is disgusting). First on my list was a snack of crickets. Hey, I'm a logical person. I've seen video of people talking about how crickets (and other insects) are a great source of protein with no fat. And how they don't taste bad once cooked. They're a great and easy renewable resource, and if we're not careful, humanity is going to be forced to turn to this food source one day just to stay alive. So, crickets.

I'm not sure why I decided on them over grasshoppers. I didn't remember that they looked like baby roaches. It did take me a second to psych myself up to eating one. (This is the kind of thrill *I* like!) But, here's the truth. They only taste like the seasoning that was used. And it was a good seasoning. They tasted hollow and crunchy. There was no substance to them. I ate the whole batch, but I certainly didn't look at them as I did so. I'm glad that I tried them!

After that, Mom and I went walked around some more and we came back to Exotic Meats for my dinner before the show. Originally, I had wanted to eat an alligator burger, but it was $16, and I'd already had alligator a couple years back at the Taste of Tacoma (it was fried on a stick, and I'm not joking, it tasted *exactly* like chicken. I think they used chicken and I got duped.) Plus I was not that hungry. I did see something else they had that wasn't specifically on their menu, though. Rabbit and Python sausage. I was like, sure, why not. Python sounds tasty. Plus it was $6 cheaper. It was boiled and not grilled which was slightly disappointing. It kind of just tasted like it needed ketchup. Sometimes I wonder if people that sell exotic meats or exotic jerky are just a long con and have been duping all of us since forever. It's not like we can prove that there's really any python in that sausage, you know?

Anyway, by this time they were opening the Grandstand for the show, so we went and got scones for the road and I grabbed my blanket and fancy folding chair out of mom's car. She drove home and I had the plan to take the fair bus back at the end of the concert.

I didn't know what to expect for this comedy tour experience. I'd seen Fluffy's Netflix specials so how different could this be? Well for one, comedians take from their environment and use it to craft jokes. So, we got jokes about coffee, how cold it was, and how to say "Puyallup" (Pew-all-up.), And he spent quite a while joking with (not at) the sign language interpreter. I'd had one at Alton Brown's tour as well and I thought they were always at events just in case they were needed but turns out [they're not] Gabriel rarely sees them so he had a field day making them sign stuff, including curse words that he was contractually obligated not to say because it was a "family event". 

Near the end of the show he turned to a couple of old but good jokes, which was actually kind of fun because all these guys - over 10,000 (the only show bigger was Macklemore, sorry Mom/Chicago) knew them by heart and actually said them right along with him.

Even if you know the joke, watch it 
until the end. We were given permission
to film at the end because he's a cool dude.

It was a great experience. I'm glad that I went. Gabriel Iglesias is a very down to earth kind of guy. He's very appreciative of everyone and everything, and doesn't let fame go to his head at all. I am super excited to see this new sitcom he's apparently got in the works!

So, that was it. Ride a crazy ride, eat some crazy food, watch a crazy Mexican make jokes, and go home!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Why is Lucifer so Facinating?

I don't watch stuff more than once, generally. Even if I really really like it. Sure, there are some movies I've seen more than once, like Jurassic Park, or October Sky. But even some of the greatest movies I've ever seen will only pull my attention on their initial run, never to cross my eyeballs again.
For the longest time, Star Trek is the only series (and I'm talking all of them, save Enterprise) that I've seen more than once. Some more than twice (Voyager, I'm looking at you).

And then came Lucifer.

Something about this show fascinates me, and I'm thinking it might have something to do with Tom Ellis (okay, everything to do with Tom Ellis). It's almost like I can watch each episode and it won't stick in my brain like other shows will to the point where I can't watch it again. Every time I watch an episode it's like I'm seeing it again for the first time.

By the way, I'm on re-watch number four. Yeah, you heard me. FOUR. As in, as soon as I'm done with the last season, I start over again. I know, it's crazy.

There's something about the Lucifer character that turns me to mush (could it be his charm? haha) which is very strange because he's the exact opposite of any guy I would ever look to date. He's selfish, conceited, and could almost be considered narcissistic if it wasn't for the fact that his naivete stops him from realizing how he's acting sometimes. Lucifer also treats most women as mere objects and conquests and doesn't hide how he looks at them. With the #metoo movement going on now, he'd be banished to Hell for his behavior, I'm sure.

But he's also incredibly charming, witty, and funny as hell. The British accent doesn't hurt either.
[Side note: I don't know how much of what he says is scripted or improvised, but how British he sounds is at least 50% of what makes Lucifer so well cast with Tom Ellis. Without all the British wit, it wouldn't be nearly as fun to watch.]

Lucifer actually hits all three things on my must-have list for any relationship:

1. Honesty
He never lies. It's a point of pride for him. It's especially evident in the Season 2 episode "It's a Good Day to Die" where he's sitting next to Chloe in the hospital bed and she's asking if they'll have a talk later. He doesn't even respond verbally, because he knows he's about to run away. (admittedly not the best example... lol)

[Bonus points: He never once lies about who he is. He straight up says he's the Devil from day one. Invulnerable, immortal; all that. That's another reason I love this show and why it is so unique. There are too many shows out there where the character is always trying to hide who they are and people around them almost find out (gasp!) it's kind of getting old. This is new and refreshing.]

2. Loyalty (or faithfulness)
This one is kind of up to interpretation because he's very self-centered generally. But, even when he ran away to Las Vegas to get married (a plan hatched just to get Chloe to fall out of love with him), he still came back. Because he wants to be by her side, even if it means only friendship and nothing more.

3. Humor
A man's gotta be funny!

4. Not into Kids (this should be at the top, really lol)
We gotta be on the same page.



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review Wednesday

Exercise equipment is one thing that I buy all the time thinking that if I just have it I'll use it, you know? I live in a small apartment and don't have room for large pieces of equipment, nor does our complex have any sort of gym. I bought a BodyBoss, which is a cool idea in theory, using resistance bands on weighted base so you don't have to deal with attaching it to a door, and if you have a bench you can do a chest press. But do I ever use it? Hell no.

I've also never spent as much money on a piece of exercise equipment as I did for my review product: Treadly. Treadly is an interesting concept. They managed to fit a huge, normally bulky treadmill into a very compact package. They do this by getting rid of everything unnecessary. You can't specifically change any settings, there are no safety arms or safety latch. The only information you get to see is your distance, your steps, and your time (kind of wish they could add your pace or the speed of the treadmill in real time). 

You change the speed by walking in a specific zone. It's kind of a frustrating experience actually, because I am often inadvertently changing the speed of the pace unintentionally because I have a long stride. But when I'm spot on, it's great. I decided to order the hydraulic bar attachment, which allows the speed to increase from 3.8 to 5mph, in case I ever wanted to run on it (might take me a while to work up to that, but it's good to know the option is there). 

I bought this because I wanted the ability to increase my steps goal without having to go outside (I'm an introvert, what can I say?), especially while watching TV. In reality though, I was making all kinds of excuses. I live in an urban area, I'm a young woman who lives alone, and I'm not in the safest of neighborhoods. Living in WA state, the weather is only 3-bears perfect probably 2 months out of the year. Right now it's in the 90s and the last thing I want to do is go for a stroll and have to shower afterwards. The rest of the year it's raining or threatening rain. And besides, it's so boring to walk around the neighborhood. With this baby, I can set it up in front of my TV and concentrate on watching my program while getting my steps in.

It is still heavy. They could only reduce the weight so much. It's large and unwieldy enough
to be glad that I have it set up right where I want to use it because I just know that trying to pull it out from under my bed and roll it down the hallway and getting it around my furniture would not be happening. It definitely could have used some kind of handlebar system on the back end to give me something to grasp while wheeling it around, though. If the hydraulic bar could lock in place when it was down that would be perfect, but it moves so it won't work for that.

The other issue I have it that it is so thin that it doesn't work well on carpet. Some thicker rubber feet on the bottom would be ideal. As of right now, I have to place a piece of particleboard under the back end so that the tread doesn't rub against my carpet. It had left powdery streak marks, which I didn't realize was a problem (it can be vacuumed up) until the treadmill gave me an E2 error code one day from overheating due to all the friction on the carpet. Which, by the way, is no fun when the treadmill abruptly stops and you so weren't ready for that. Thank goodness I wasn't running on it!! Maybe some warning beeps or something? Slow before stopping? Anything? lol

Really though, those are minor gripes for what I'm getting here. I mean look at how little space it takes up! As long as I'm watching TV, I can pull that sucker down and get in a few extra steps. My goal is at least 10,000 steps a day. And now the weather doesn't even matter. I can do it any time. NO MORE EXCUSES! :D