I have had my DJI Mavic Pro drone for a little over a month and have flown quite a few missions to date. It is an incredible quad-copter and the 4K video camera is amazing. I’ve flown mostly around the field in front of our house, but recently after purchasing an app called Litchi, I’ve been venturing beyond the field and into the great unknown and letting the drone do the flying and video capturing.
At first I was very scared I would lose my drone. It is not a cheap toy, so I’ve kept it close by, but this Litchi app is such a confidence booster. It has so many great features and allows me to create missions by setting way-points from the comfort of my couch, without having to power the drone on. I can also set the drones speed, height, and force the camera to focus on POI (Point of Interests). The missions can be saved and stored on the cloud, and they can be accessed with any device. Best of all I can clone other folks missions and make them my own.
I’ll do a review of the mobile app once I have mastered it. Today I explored a large quarry opposite the Bluewater Shopping Centre. It is a massive hole filled with water and has steep white cliffs on all sides. I got some incredible footage. I probably could have gotten closer, but with big fences saying “Stay out or Danger”, I didn’t want to risk it. After that excitement I headed down to the Thames river near Ingress Park and was fortunate enough to catch the sun setting over the QE2 bridge. It was the first time in a month that I had perfect conditions. No wind whatsoever and the river was like a mirror.
When buying the DJI Mavic Pro one has a choice to either buy the standard Mavic Pro with controller or the Mavic Pro “Fly More Combo”. The latter, which I went for, has a bunch of useful extras such as a car charger, two extra batteries, a battery charging hub, quick release propellers, battery to power bank adapter and a shoulder bag.
However, there is a problem. The Mavic shoulder bag cannot hold the Mavic Pro and controller and everything offered in the Fly More Combo. At best it can hold the following:
the Mavic Pro,
one extra battery,
spare propellers and some memory cards.
I am not impressed with the size of the bag. The Mavic shoulder bag sold on its own costs $79, which is a steep price for such a small bag and I recommend you do not buy it if you are considering it.
Lets face it, drone pilots will carry other devices such as DSLR camera, a lens, GoPro, a tripod, a handheld gimbal, cables, a landing pad etc. so a bigger bag is needed.
A bag for every day
I also wanted a bag that I can use on a day to day basis allowing me space for my headphones, a laptop and a light top or jacket.
Swype is a virtual keyboard for touchscreen smartphones and tablets where one enters words by sliding a finger or stylus from the first letter of a word to its last letter. I have been using the app since 2010 on all my touchscreen devices. In my opinion it is the best swiping finger gesture keyboard available.
What makes it stand out as the best you may ask?
Just like every hardware keyboard that has a Ctrl or Command key, Swype has button. Every gesture shortcut starts from this button.
The most useful gestures are similar to hardware keyboards and are universal and easy to remember.
Another great feature is the ability to punctuate a word such as CAPITALIZE all letters in a word, or Capitalize the first letter of a word, or remove all capitalization from a word. Simply use the +Shift button.
For the past 8 months I have been religiously recording every beer that I drink. I am doing this with an app called Untappd and it has changed the way I drink beer. The app is super intuitive and easy to use.
Whether I’m in a pub, restaurant or at home cracking open a can or bottle of beer, the first thing I do is scan the bar code (if possible) or do a search for the beer name. Once the beer has been found in the database, I check it in. If I am at a pub or restaurant I insert the location (useful for others).
Next up I take a photo of the glass of beer, bottle or can and attach it to the check-in. One doesn’t have to take a photo (but a photo is worth a thousands words).
I stopped using Facebook 26 days ago to see if it would make a difference in my life. By ‘stopped’ I mean I uninstalled the app from my mobile and stopped checking Facebook, commenting, liking and browsing endless, pointless statuses. I also culled over 50% of my friends list. I tell you, it has been great!
For me the Facebook experience has always been a little hit and miss. I am not one for posting a status update every day of the week and I am definitely not one to share a personal conversation with my wife over my Facebook status, nor would I bore you with my bowel movements on Monday or what my cat was licking yesterday afternoon. You laugh! Read what your Facebook friends are posting.
So after 26 days I have not missed … seeing dozens of Facebook adverts of stuff that I don’t want, or friend invites to games that I would never play or photographs of … babies, cats, dogs, wild animals being hunted into extinction, birds, plates of food, cups of coffee, memes, cars, motor bikes, google maps showing airport check-ins…
Remember that video of a drone called Lily, which wooed the world with its amazing, almost too good to be true features such as being water proof, being able to follow one around, flight times of 20 minutes, take off and land from a hand etc. Well, the company just announced its quitting as it’s run out of money.
Not only that, it turns out the video above was mostly shot and filmed using a DJI Inspire drone and some GoPro cameras. What a con?
There were thousands of pre-orders and people handed over millions of dollars to the company in the hope to get one of these incredible drones, which just goes to show that pre-order purchasing (handing over your money with no guarantee of getting your purchase delivered) is as risky as these crowdfunding projects on Indigogo and Kickstarter.
Many a company has promised the world and then crashed and burned with folks hard earned money. Shame on them!
In my last blog of 2015 I mentioned what a special year it had been for us, but honestly 2016 has topped it in so many ways.
It was the year Bowen travelled the most miles and visited even more exciting, exotic destinations than ever before. There were again a few firsts (first time to Zel am See, Mexico City, the island of Bali and Kraków). British Airways was the carrier of choice and they lived up to their great customer service by upgrading us twice for free.
On the BA website they have this cool little chart showing some cool statistics.
The year of travel started in late March with a week long trip to a small Austrian town called Zel Am See. This was our first ski trip to Austria and it was awesome! The weather was perfect most days, the scenery was outstanding.
A week or two later we were jetting off to Mexico City for the wedding extravaganza of the year. Our friends Rodney and Sofia were getting married, but this was no ordinary wedding.
It means a great deal to me for multiple reasons (1st world, diversity, great services, central travel hub, weather, good beer etc.), but in this post I will give ONE excellent reason.
I lost my wallet on Tuesday evening at Lewisham station. It contained my drivers license, bank cards, credit cards, ID cards, some cash and some work receipts etc.
Annoying to have lost it = YES, but I realized the loss quickly and called my banks to let them know, called the train station to report a lost wallet and logged into the DVLA website and purchased a replacement drivers licence. Basically by the time I went to bed, I had peace of mind that everything would be okay.
On Thursday morning I received in the post all my new bank cards and credit cards. It took less than two days for my bank to resolve my problem. That is excellent service in my eyes.
On Friday I got a call from British Rail. My wallet had been found and I could collect it.
Today (Saturday) my new drivers license has arrived.
That is less than 4 days to have my life back to normal again. Talk about efficiency! The UK is efficient.