The little fitness band that could – My Review of the Xiaomi Mi Band

On my wrist with the OEM Band

Starting this year I have been being more active and taking better care of my health by dieting and working out regularly (weights and some running). I bought my girlfriend a Fitbit Charge HR and while it is pretty great I came across this little $20 fitness tracker. Enter the Xiaomi Mi Band.

While the other fitness trackers do a lot more than this one, what you get for $20 is well worth it. The Mi Band does automatic sleep tracking and step tracking. The best part about it is that you don’t have to do anything. Sleep tracking is automatic and so is the step counter. This device also integrates perfectly with Google Fit so you can have all your stats on your Google account for easy access on any device.

When you buy the Xiaomi Mi Band you need to make sure you are getting the REAL on by Xiaomi and not a knockoff. There are plenty of imitations so if it says DAMI anywhere on the box or listing where you are buying it from this is a FAKE.

When you open the box you get the fitness module, band, and charging cable. You charge up the module with any USB charger and takes about 1 hour to charge to full.

Mi Band Package Contents

Mi Band Package Contents

You slip the module into the band and then download the app to your phone. Now I had an initial issue where I had trouble creating an account in the app but I just went to their website, created an account there, and then signed in on the app.

There’s not much else to it. Just wear it and check the app for your progress. If you want Google Fit integration you can enable that in the app settings. There are also 3rd party apps that you can use to make the Mi Band buzz for different notifications with different colors to let you know you have an email, text, or whatever else you want to have it alert you on. I did not use these apps as I have a Pebble but had I not had a Pebble I would have taken advantage of them.

Let’s go over the pros and cons of this little device.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Battery life (Over 50 days)
  • Inexpensive
  • Good build quality
  • Easy to use
  • Completely waterproof up to 50M

Cons:

  • OEM band broke the first day (still usable, just cosmetic)
  • Hard to find 3rd party or even replacement bands for it (have to use AliExpress or Ebay and order from China)
  • App is not very refined

That’s really all there is to it. The Mi Band is a no-frills fitness tracker that does what it is supposed to do. I had no issues with getting it to sync with my LG G4 and it updated the firmware on the device seamlessly on its own when a new update came out.

The bottom line is if you just want sleep tracking and an accurate step counter this is worth picking up. If you want more than that you will need to look elsewhere. However, there are rumors that a new one with a heart rate monitor is coming out soon. If it does I may have to pick it up. I posted some pictures of the screens and of the 3rd party band I use (purchased on EBay). Enjoy!

Quick Charging 2.0 – What is it and how does it work?

If you have looked into getting a new smartphone in the past 6 months there is a very good chance that you have seen phones with “Quick Charge 2.0” as a feature. While the name itself pretty much tells you what it does do you know how it works and what is needed to use it?

quick-charge 2.0 logo

Quick Charge 2.0 is a standard that was developed by a company called Qualcomm, they make the majority of the CPU’s and other chips in today’s smartphones. The bottom line is that phones that are equipped with the Quick Charge 2.0 are able to charge up their batteries at a quicker rate than phones without it, however, there is a catch.

In order for Quick Charge 2.0 to actually work there are a few things that you need. Your phone itself must support the Quick Charge 2.0 feature, your charger must be a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 charger, and a good quality USB cable.

I have the LG G4 and my girlfriend has the Samsung Galaxy S6. Now my LG G4 (Verizon variant) does support Quick Charge 2.0 (QC 2.0) but it does NOT come with a QC 2.0 compatible charger, however, the Samsung S6 charger is a QC 2.0 charger.

LG G4 QC 2.0 Working

Now there is spotty information on whether the LG G4 supports quick charging or not but after running the LG G4 on a QC 2.0 charger with a USB voltmeter in between the charger and phone I can see it negotiate the higher power for quick charging. It will however not tell you that it is quick charging like some other phone models.

I mentioned a “good quality” USB cable. I mention this because we all have MicroUSB cables laying around that work but may be finicky when getting them to work with charging. This is because the wires inside are either worn down and partially broken or they are thin gauge wires. I recommend getting new cables that are the 20AWG wire inside for the power wires, I use the TronSmart ones on Amazon (Link: TronSmart 6 Pack 20AWG). However do NOT use the power cables that are for power only as these are NOT compatible with the QC 2.0 chargers, I will explain why.

So you have a QC 2.0 charger, QC 2.0 phone and a good USB cable right? You are all good to go. But how does this charge the phone faster? Let me explain.

quickcharge_2.0_spec

 

In each USB 2.0 cable, you have 4 wires, 2 data and 2 power. The Quick Charge 2.0 specification uses the 2 data wires to allow your phone to “talk” to the QC 2.0 charger to tell it that it is QC 2.0 enabled and what the maximum input voltage it can handle is. The QC 2.0 standard allows for 5V, 9V, 12V, and 20V on the power wires, however, MOST USB QC 2.0 chargers will stick with a 9V power output and not offer the last 2. This is why you need a standard USB cable and not ones that are “power only” cables. The “power only” cables do not have the data lines connected so the QC 2.0 devices will not be able to talk to one another, but it will still charge with the standard 5V rate.

It is important to note that phones that are QC 2.0 enabled and connected to more traditional “high amp” USB AC adapters will pull the additional power/amps to charge quicker, but to do this reliably you must have good quality/undamaged USB cables. Anker, Aukey, and Orinoco have some solid high-amperage USB chargers that I use at home and in the car that charge up my QC 2.0 devices fast. I have verified this using the little USB volt/amp meter inline with the USB cables and high amp chargers. My LG G4 will pull up to 2.0 amps from a 5V source if it can put that much out.

But wait Tim! You said for QC 2.0 to work you need a QC 2.0 charger. You technically do but only if you want to charge at high voltage (9-20V) instead of the standard USB 5V. If you have a high amp 5V AC adapter this will not use the QC 2.0 standard but because it is higher amps it will use the additional amps to charge the battery quick. There are 2 ways to get more power (aka quicker charged battery) – More amps and/or More volts. This has only been true with the newer Smartphones as most of the older ones limited them to the USB 2.0 specification of 0.5 amps maximum.

So there you have it. If you have any comments or suggestions please drop me a line with the contact form on my site.

Hiding Behind the Badge – My Current Battle with the Chicago Police Department

I am writing this post today so that my case can be out there in the open so everyone knows what the CPD does when they are at fault in an accident.

Around 8PM on January 12th, 2015 I was heading east on Lake street going to make a right hand turn to go on to Hamlin going south. I have worked in the city for almost 4 years and I know to check to see if there are turn lanes that share with the bike lanes, there was NO turn lane to go right at this particular intersection (you can see here: Google Street View of Lake and Hamlin). I turn my signal on and proceed through the turn. I am well over halfway into the turn when out of nowhere I see a silver Crown Vic coming fast towards my passenger side. I swerve to lessen the blow but he still hits me. We pull over facing south bound on Hamlin and size up the accident.

The officer that was driving according to the Illinois Traffic Crash Report was Officer Kevin J. Gardner, the funny thing is that I distinctly remember his name badge saying Garcia and NOT Gardner. There were 2 other officers in the CPD car and I had 2 of my friends in the car with me at the time of the accident.

I had my 2 friends stay in the car and I got out with my ID, registration, and insurance info in hand. All 3 of the officers got out of the car and you can tell that he realized that he was wrong. Kevin tried to say that he was turning from a turn lane and then I told him that it was NOT and we BOTH walked to the intersection and he saw that I was correct. He then started going on about how “The city has these streets all messed up and it’s hard to keep them all straight”. What he really meant to say was that he wasn’t paying attention and that is why he hit me.

He called his sergeant and the sergeant said it was going to be over an hour for the accident people to get here so we could just drive to the station to fill out the paperwork, and that is what we did. We filled it out and everyone was calm and polite to one another. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal until I get a letter from State Farm stating that they were not able to recover any money from the city and that I am NOT at fault for the accident.

Now 2 weeks before I got the letter from State Farm I received a demand letter from Chicago stating that I owe $565.70 for the repairs to their car. I called the number on the letter and directed them to State Farm since they were handling this case. Everything was quiet until I open my mail last night and there was a debt collection letter from the city’s lawyers informing me that I am being put to collections. I again call State Farm and send them over a copy of the document, they said they will handle it.

Why am I putting this all out there? Because I have been constantly wasting time dealing with this when I shouldn’t have to. On top of that because the officer that was driving LIED on the report I am out my $500 deductible and state farm is out over $2200 in repairs for my car. I do currently have an investigation open with the CPD Internal Affairs department so hopefully this goes somewhere. I want my money back and this officer punished for what he’s doing.

I will be blasting this information everywhere I can and filing complaints however I can until this gets somewhere. The end goal here? I want my money back and the officer punished for writing false information on the report.

Here is the diagram of what happened. You can see it matches up with the pictures below of the accident and the Google Streetview of the intersection. I also included the diagram that the officer submitted on his report that shows a 2 lane road going each way when it was 2 lanes, but only 1 going each way. Also I never even received a ticket so how am I in the wrong here?

My Diagram from the Report I filed:

 

CPD Diagram from Report:

 

CPD Accident Diagram

 

Pictures from that night of the Accident:

Need to switch your State Farm Agent? Read here.

This is a little random in terms of content on my site but I could not for the life of me find the information to transfer my State Farm insurance policy over from my existing agent to another one. Here is how you do it.

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  1. Call 877-277-8098 and tell them you want to transfer your policy. They will verify your information and note the account that you will be transferring the policies to another agent.
  2. Send an email to agentselection@statefarm.com with the subject line of ASR
  3. Include the following in the body of the email
    1. A statement saying that you want to transfer the policy over to the new agent, listing the new agents name, address, and phone number
    2. Your policy numbers
    3. Your phone number on the account
    4. Your address on the account
  4. Send the email!

You will get an email request from the system and then someone from State Farm will email you with an estimated ETA on how long it will take to transfer the policies over to the new agent.

Hopefully this saves someone else the time that it took me to gather this info!

Still Alive and Kicking! Early 2015 Update

I am glad to see that I still am getting traffic on the site and that my posts have been helping people!word cloud for year 2015

My last posts were about going my own way and doing the eJuice and IT consulting on my own. While it was a fun time for a few months after parting ways with my last employer I accepted a great offer from a client that I had worked with in the past. Since early January I have been working as an IT manager for a trucking company here in IL. I have to say that this is the one job that I would have given up the freedom of working for myself for. It’s been a few months now and I have to say that this is a great fit for me both mentally and professionally.

What about the businesses?

Now you are probably wondering what is happening with the eJuice business and the consulting, let me elaborate on that.

My eJuice business (H4KJUICE) is still going strong. I have reduced the amount of shops from 4 to 1 so that I can focus on boosting online sales and developing flavors. The one shop (Smoke Rings Etc in Bloomington, IL) that I continue to do business exclusively with has been fantastic in helping to shape the brand and improve the quality and image of it as a whole. I am very happy with them and it is a joy to see the brand taking off so strongly down there in Bloomington. I have a few new flavors in development right now and expect to have at least one of the three released by the end of April

As for the IT consulting this is how is has been since I have had a full time job and I still have been maintaining my loyal clients (some that I have had for over 10 years). They keep things interesting and I keep the ones that I enjoy working with.

Just some random things

All in all I am very happy with the changes that have taken place. I don’t put too much out there but in addition to the professional success I met a lovely woman that I am building a relationship with. Could she be the future Mrs. Hoogland? Only time will tell but I have a good feeling about her.

I should also say that I have also been working on improving my health in 2015. I am down about 45lbs as of the time of writing this and I plan on getting down another 35 to get to my goal weight. I also started running for multiple reasons and even have 2 5K runs coming up in the next few months.

In addition to all that I actually started keeping a freshwater aquarium at home and have really gotten hooked on that. I started with a 20 gallon that a friend of mine gave me and at the beginning of the month I upgraded to a 60 gallon and have it fully stocked. Who would have thought fish would be so entertaining? I certainly didn’t and was wrong.

2015-03-25 20.53.03

Site Direction?

As for the direction with this site I will be writing more technical articles to not only help others but to also help keep myself current with technology happenings. Thank you for reading and I hope your 2015 is off to a great start as mine is! Stay healthy and always be improving yourselves!