i went to the post office in the afternoon to drop off frances' norwegian package. it's probably one of the biggest shipment yet in terms of box size, but it actually did weigh all that much, just a wee bit over 22lbs. it's mostly shoes stuffed with some clothes and a few toys. i was almost afraid it wouldn't even fit in the largest box i could find but fortunately clothes compress a lot better than shoes.
this gave me the perfect opportunity to test out the htc re camera attached to my bicycle. htc sells a special bicycle mount for the re camera at $19.99, but my $1.87 universal adjustable velcro/rubber flashlight bicycle mount worked just as well. mounted on the handlebar, it doesn't even look like a camera, more like a fancy bike light. since i don't have the app installed on my phone, shooting/filming blind was a little disconcerting. i wouldn't be able to see any of the footage until i got back home and download the data.
there was already a line of nearly 8 people when i arrived at the porter square post office around 1:30. there was only one clerk working and a young man was taking forever mailing off something like 100 letters. it literally took half an hour before he was finally finished. by that point the line had already doubled in length, and a few frustrated customers even left in disgust. the clerk didn't care, and the young man - whom probably was some sort of psychopath - didn't even notice that he single-handedly shut down the post office.
besides shooting videos, i also took a few snapshots with the re. the process is fairly inconspicuous, except the camera makes a soft shutter sound (maybe it can be turned off with the app). with being able to see the photos, i wasn't sure if i was framing the images correctly, and i felt like maybe i was chopping off the top of the pictures because i held the camera about waist high.
from the post office i went to michael's to look for vinyl letter stickers to make a sign for my mother (she wants to sell some of her knit hats). the ones they had were too small (i wanted letters about 2-3" tall) and too expensive, even with a 50% off coupon. so i called my mother and i used the coupon on a skein of patons classic wool yarn in aran. next i went to market basket (down somerville avenue) to pick up some groceries.
i downloaded the photos and videos from the re when i got back to the house. they weren't bad. the videos can sometimes be a little blurry especially if i was traveling fast. there are two microphones on the re: one picked up the sound of the wind whipping against the camera (front mic), the other (back mic?) ambient noises coming from the bike, like the squeaking brakes or gear changes. the re doesn't have optical stabilizing, but i hardly noticed it until i hit a bump and then the footage would blurry for a split second, but this could happen anyway even with OIS. the riding videos were kind of boring though, nothing too exciting happening in my neighborhood.
the re has a 146° FOV, which is the equivalent of a 16mm focal length on a standard 35mm camera. i tested this with my 16mm equivalent wide angle lens to confirm this is indeed correct. i believe the re uses a standard 4:3 CMOS sensor (16 megapixels), but it crops the top and bottom in order to fit the 16:9 HD aspect ratio, even for photos (once again, maybe there's an option to change this in the app, i don't know). the re lens has a fixed aperture of f2.8 and an auto-adjusted ISO that i've seen gone up as high as 2500 in low light situation (maybe go up even higher).
i like the re in that it's inconspicuous. it has such an unusual shape, normal people don't realize it's actually a camera (like many reviewers have said, it looks more like an asthma inhaler). compared that with a gopro (not comparing image quality or features, just the physical design), which is this boxy thing that's become so ubiquitous, people immediately recognize it has a video recorder. the re is also waterproof (as is the gopro) up to a 1m underwater for 30 minutes, but i can imagine using it in the rain or snow without worrying about it getting wet. if only that app would work!
the nest thermostat is now learning to calculate the estimated time it takes to heat to a certain temperature. the initial readings are a bit off, hopefully it'll get more accurate over time. it did something weird in the evening though: it set my temperature down to 60 degrees around 10pm. maybe it thinks that's the usual bedtime for normal people. i had to erase all the automatically set 60° point in the schedule. and when i manually set the temperature from the phone app to drop down to 62° at midnight, it didn't seem to save any of that data. so my feeling so far about the nest is it overheats, thereby fooling itself into thinking the house is warmer than it actually is. as for the learning, it doesn't seem to be that smart, giving some bad predictions in just a few days of use. the only things i like about it is i can set the temperature remotely and the cool user interface.
for dinner i continued with my turkey wraps. i thought i'd finish tonight, but i had enough for lunch tomorrow. later i had some vanilla ice cream, and when that wasn't satisfying enough, i took out the wedge of danish blue cheese and ate half paired up with some water crackers. blue cheese was one of the things i missed eating when i was in china, where i couldn't find any cheese like that. i figured out a way to explain blue cheese to a chinese person: it's like fermented tofu (the kind you buy in jars to be eaten with rice porridge), but hard, and you eat it by slicing off little pieces and consumed with crackers.
playing around with the infrared thermometer, i realized my jar of fermenting kombucha is located in a part of the kitchen where it's cold (against a side wall). so i improvised, pushed the fridge closer to the sink counter, giving me enough room to set the kombucha on a stool next to the other side of the fridge. why? because the coils behind the fridge actually makes it warmer, and the fridge is located in a central part of the house that never gets too cold. hopefully this will speed up the fermentation process.