Lent is the penitential season of fasting and prayer that runs from Ash Wednesday until just before Easter.
The problem is that the length of Lent doesn't quite add up. It's often described as being 40 days long, but if you count the number of days between Ash Wednesday and the day before Easter Sunday, it's 46 days.
The church says "Ah, but you don't count Sundays, because you don't need to fast on Sundays". And by removing the 6 Sundays from the 46 days, you do indeed get 40 days. But then how is that meant to correlate with the time that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness? Did he have a day off on Sundays?
And what about the fact that Jesus was meant to return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a full week before Easter? That's 40 days (including Sundays), but that's not what any Christian denomination teaches as Lent. The Catholic church says that Lent runs until Holy Thursday or Good Friday, and the Protestants says it runs until Holy Saturday!
I've been testing out the Ticwatch E for the past 10 days, and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts.
I had been hunting around for a replacement for my Pebble watch for the last few months, based on the fact that Fitbit are shutting off the servers that support it in a few months. I also wanted to see what advancements had been made with Android Wear since the LG G Watch I bought 4 years ago.
My requirements for a smart watch were that it had to:
Work with my Android phone – thus ruling out the Apple Watch
Have a simple design, a round face, and not look like a sports watch
Be easy to update and install apps
Be not too expensive
The Ticwatch E runs on Android Wear version 2, which is a new development for Mobvoi, as their previous Ticwatch models ran on a bespoke operating system called Ticwear OS. The support of Android Wear was important to me, as I would be free to install whatever apps I wanted, rather than having to wait for the manufacturer to decide to provide updated.
Android Wear 2 seems to be a big step forward from the original Android Wear OS, and it's good to see the Google are providing regular updates that bring additional refinements. At the moment it's on version 2.8, which brought improvements to notification displays and battery life.
I had been slightly concerned that the battery life for the watch, as some reviews had expressed problems with it running out of juice during the day. And indeed, when I first got the watch, the battery did seem to die quite quickly. But after 2 full zero-to-full charges, the battery life improved considerably.
Ten days on, I find that I'm disconnecting the charger cable at roughly 7.00am every morning, and by the time I go to bed at 11.00pm there's about 40% left of the battery. I keep the screen brightness set at level 2 (out of 5) which is plenty bright to see inside – although it could be a bit dim in bright conditions outside.
I put mine on to charge every night, but if you wanted to use your watch for sleep tracking then you might need to find another time during the day to charge it.
I like the simplicity of design of the Ticwatch E, and the fact that it doesn't have thick bezels with numbers written on them. The watch case is quite visibly made of plastic, and doesn't look very "premium" when compared to other smart watched that cost twice the price. It's more like a Swatch watch, and more suited towards casual dress rather than formal-wear.
One thing that may annoy some people is that the watch has it's one physical button on the left side of the dial, which is the opposite side to pretty much every watch ever sold. I'm not sure why they made this decision, but it suits me rather well. I'm left-handed, and wear my watch on my right wrist, and so I can press the button on the left easily without obstructing the screen. Right-handed people may not like this design feature as much!
I'm not sure whether I'll stick with the silicone watch strap. It's fine and does the job well, but I may switch over to a leather strap in the coming weeks. The supplied strap comes with quick-release notches that would make swapping to another 20mm strap quite easy.
The watch comes with step tracking, inbuilt GPS and a heart rate monitor. I've not tested these features very much. The step tracking between my phone and watch seems to differ during the day, but the Google Fit app seems to decide upon one of the values to use.
The heart rate monitor is not running all the time – presumably to save battery life – but can be enabled on demand when you're exercising.
This isn't the watch for you if you want a lot of fitness tracking features. You might be better off with a Fitbit or another dedicated fitness tracker, but it does seem to do the basics quite well.
I got my Ticwatch E from Amazon, and it cost £117 (approx. €132). You can alternatively buy direct from Mobvoi for around €123 at the moment with after a 20% promotional discount has been applied.
When you compare this to the likes of the Apple Watch which costs between €279 (series 1) and €379 (series 3), and the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 watch that cost around €300, then the Ticwatch is quite cheap in comparison.
I had already played around with installing an SSL certificate for my richardbloomfield.com site, but SSL certs can be expensive to buy and maintain, and my old host would only allow me to install one cert on my shared hosting account – so I could only secure one of my domains.
To perform the migration of my WordPress blog between hosts, I followed the instructions on this page:
It uses a plugin called Duplicator that does all the heavy lifting of creating a complete backup of your existing site – including the WordPress database (that stores all your posts, pages, comments, and settings), and all the WordPress files (the WordPress software itself plus any themes and plugins you've installed).
The blog installed without any problems on my new hosting account, and I was left with an exact copy of my old WordPress installation.
Then all that was left was to log into the SiteGround control panel and enable the Let's Encrypt SSL for that domain with a couple of clicks, and I was all set.
I also installed the SG Optimizer plugin that allows me to make use of the SiteGround dynamic web cache (which really speeds up my web site) and allows for a one-click option to force all blog traffic over the HTTPS secure connection.
The segregated cycle path along Grand Canal is an example of the kind of cycling infrastructure that we should have all over the city.
It’s clearly a very popular resource, especially during the rush hours, with thousands of bikes passing every hour – mostly with people heading to and from the Grand Canal Dock area. It gets so busy that as many as 50 bikes bunch up to wait at each phase of the traffic lights crossing the arterial roads such as Charlemont Street and Baggot Street.
Unfortunately the traffic light sequences just aren’t long enough for the sheer volume of cyclists. The bike-specific green light only lasts for a few seconds – enough time for maybe 10 bikes to get through. And so cyclists are routinely setting off to cross the roads as soon as the pedestrian lights go green (ahead of the bicycle green light), which obviously leads to some contention with pedestrians trying to cross at the same time.
Most of the cyclists are respectful of the pedestrians, and wait for them to cross first, but there are a small minority of cyclists that act in a way that can appear selfish or dangerous to pedestrians.
On top of this there are also vehicles, waiting at the traffic lights, that sometimes block the junctions where people are trying to cross – leading to more contention between pedestrians and cyclists being squeezed into a small space between cars.
The answer to this would seem to be to adjust the bicycle-specific traffic lights along this route to allow a lot more time for bikes to get through – even if that's just for weekday rush hours. And also, to keep junctions free of vehicles, I would suggest that yellow boxes should be extended to include the crossing areas.
By doing this, we can make this route a safer and more pleasant environment for both pedestrians and cyclists, who vastly outnumber those in cars, and enhance this popular commuting route.
Fitbit has announced that formal support of Pebble watches will end on 30th June 2018.
After acquiring Pebble's software division when the Pebble closed down at the end of 2016, Fitbit pledged to keep the back-end servers that support Pebble's online services running until the end of 2017. And with this recent news the support has extended by a further 6 months.
The servers run the Pebble software API, and support some of the watch features such as:
Timeline pins from applications
Text messages and email via iOS
Pebble app store and forums
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