Instapaper V Pocket v2

After more than 6 months of trying both products side-by-side for my article reading needs/wants. Here are a few of my main take-aways:

  • Reading things on my Kindle isn’t the end-all-be-all
  • Being able to sign-in or link accounts to a platform is nearly more important than stripping ads for me now
  • Curated articles are almost always things I don’t care about from either platform
  • The current Pocket eco-system is something I find easier
    • Mainly because I’m been using it more
    • From the pocket home page, I’m easily able to edit my list
    • I can easily send things to other pocket users from within the app
    • Once I log in via my browser of choice to my various platforms I’m good to go I don’t have to resign in
      • Instapaper seems to have fixed this but I do have to usually log-in on a weekly basis. Where in Pocket its based on my personal browser settings so if I haven’t cleared cookies I’m logged in.
    • Sponsored content within Pocket is clearly marked.
  • Deleting items from my Pocket list is easier and can be done en masse
    • On the website in Instapaper (unless I’m missing something) its a one-by-one process. I tend to save 5-15 articles per day while I’m working. Someone sends me something or I browse for a few minutes during my break and I save it for later after work. Then after work, I’ll see what I’ve got and if I really want to read it. I’m probably getting rid of half of the stuff I saved from earlier.
  • Send to Kindle is a hassle regardless of the platform
    • Now with Instapaper its a premium feature so I’m not interested right there
    • To do it via pocket there are a few workarounds but also not easy and sometimes the articles are formatted in a really wonky fashion. Kindle needs to solve this on their end if its going to be a truly viable option. Till then I’ll read my articles in night-mode on my phone or tablet and just use the Kindle for books.
  • The sources that I’m going to have improved their in-app reading experience to the point where I’m using Pocket/Instapaper a lot less
    • I use the Athletic, NYTs, and WaPo for most of the things I read. All three of these have acceptable reading interfaces now.
    • The Athletic’s app is how it should be everywhere.
    • NYT is pretty good
    • WaPo has made leaps in the past 12-months but still is slightly below average UI experience via the App

Currently I think I am going to step away from Instapaper. If they bring back the premium for free I’ll look at it again. For now Pocket has won my read-it-later business.

adidas Alphabounce leather shoe review

OUTSOLE

The outsole on this shoe per Adidas is a “grippy rubber outsole” which you can see in the image below.  I found the nubs to actually feel pretty unstable at first.  I live in Fargo, ND and I got these shoes in January.  They weren’t great on snow or ice.  As I broke in the soles the nubs became less slippery and more tacky or grippy.  The nubs or lugs are rounded and maybe this is why they don’t delivery great traction out of the box.  Or maybe they just aren’t made to tackle snow or ice.  Regardless they aren’t amazing when water in any form has been involved.

When you run in these shoes periodically I’ve found myself land on a stone or a rock right on one of the lugs and that doesn’t feel great.  There isn’t a rock plate so clearly I shouldn’t be running through rocky patches but I also don’t sweep the path before I run.  The traction when running was fine as long as I didn’t run through mud or puddles.  Then the shoe never felt secure but that could be more of a fit issue.  In my daily use at work I’ve never had a traction issue outside of the snow/ice being slippery but that’s just what snow/ice are.

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MIDSOLE

The entire reason I purchased this shoe was to try out the Bounce midsole.  Right out of the box (again middle of January) I put it to the test on an elliptical and a treadmill.  It felt great.  After my first run I told my wife I was good getting rid of a pair of older shoes and just working these into the primary rotation.  The cushion felt great.

One of the words that the adidas Terrex Agravic Speed brings to mind is simplicity. The outsole mentioned above isn’t very complicated and just uses a simple design and good materials to get the job done. Likewise, the midsole of this shoe is one that eschews much complexity and opts instead for a simple layout with really only one nod to embedded technology. Made from a simple, lightweight EVA the midsole of the Terrex Agravic Speed has no rock plate in place, simply the foam covered by the outsole. Hidden in the mid foot there is adidas’ Torsion Bar which is meant to keep the foot supported while still allowing the front and rear of the shoe/foot to move independently.

I will get more into this in the RIDE section below in a second but for now I want to remind everyone that this shoe is something of a racer (or at least, that’s what myself and others think). As such, light and fast is the name of the game so some may find the lack of midsole protection a bit lacking for their taste in an every day trail shoe. To be honest, I wasn’t THAT put off by the lack of a rock plate though I do think that an offering with a minimal addition in that area would go a long way toward making this a more “daily driver” trail shoe. The Torsion Bar in the midfoot isn’t really something that stood out to me very much and I have to wonder if that’s not the point; having a subtle support for forward motion without being too intrusive. Ground feel in this is excellent to the point of likely being harsh to some people who look for more cushioning. For the stack and drop nerds in the crowd (like myself) this shoe comes in with a stack of 25mm in the heel and 17mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 8mm.

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UPPER

There are a few different variations of the upper for this shoe.  The construction is an internal booty with an overlay.  In my specific pair the overlay is leather.  That’s where the Alphbounce Leather name comes from I’m guessing.  The other ones are EM for engineered mesh.  I’m guessing the EM are cooler than the leather just because I assume they’d breather better.  These breath just fine.  The uppers and the booty are great.  I thought the leather might stretch and I haven’t noticed that at all.  The fit and ride aren’t perfect for me because the heel is too wide.  The lock-down in the midsole via the upper and the laces feels fine.  The leather is tooled and styled to add a pop appearance-wise but it doesn’t apparently effect the technical aspects of the shoe.  There is a seam inside the shoes right at the cuff of the ankle.  The booty is fused to the outlay here.  The booty inside the shoe is seamless per my feeling.  The booty really does feel nice on the foot, even if you go sockless.

I’ve worn these for about eight months and pretty much five days a week for the past three months.  The uppers are showing hardly any wear.  The shoes are pretty easy to clean-up if I get them muddy or dirty in general but they are this olive green color that doesn’t really show grime.  I thought the laces might show dirt as they have a reflective material woven into them but that hasn’t been the case of yet.  Pretty stoked to be able to wear these on the daily within my office and still pull off going and viewing industrial sites for work.  SO far they’ve been pretty sturdy.  They are easy to get on and off too due to the internal booty.

FIT

What I had experienced with Adidas shoes in the past was based on a number of pairs of Sambas, a few pairs of Superstars my brother had sent me while he was in Germany.  The shoes were always narrow and my only knock was they weren’t super cushiony.  Those specific shoes had that minimalistic design and were pre-boost or bounce.  I was expecting a narrow and possibly tight shoe.

Instead, I got a pretty narrow tow-box which I was good with but the heel is just a smidge too wide.  There isn’t anything with the laces or the booty to correct this outside of a heel cup or additional socks.  As I transitioned off the elliptical (at home) to the treadmill (at the gym) I noticed this right away.  On the elliptical, there is not heel strike because I’m not lifting my foot off the pedal.  I realized that the heel wasn’t tight but it didn’t feel loose.  As soon as I had half a dozen heel-strikes in I knew this shoe wasn’t going to be great.  I still wanted to give it a shot at least on the elliptical.

Adidas says the fit for this shoe is supposed to be for daily runs and allow for multiple directional motions.  When I read their descriptions on their website I typically assume things weren’t written in English and then they were translated because I’ve never spoken to anyone who says “yeah these shoes are great for multidirectional movements, you know running for your sport if you need stable training movements” but that’s their description.  I’ve got a narrow heel so anything that doesn’t run narrow in the heel isn’t great for me.  This shoe might be perfect for some but for me, this was relegated to an office/walking shoe almost immediately.  The only time I used it for a run was when I was taking my daughter in the running stroller, had her loaded up already and these were the shoes by the door.  This was also when I stepped on the rock and thought I might have hit a freaking nail in the middle of the road because I felt said rock all the way through the top of my head.  The length on my size 14s was spot on but the heel just was a C to a D+ for me.

Alphabounce-2

RIDE

The ride on this shoe was initially great.  I loved the Bounce and how it left my feet feeling alive after indoor training runs.  The outdoor runs and extended walks I’ve taken this shoe didn’t live up to my expectations.  I don’t know maybe the bounce already bounced and I need new shoes but I can’t imagine I’ve put 500 miles on these yet by the time they got outside.  The outsole is still in fine shape, the uppers look great and the booty is fully intact.  Its just the bounce isn’t that bouncy anymore.  On the treadmill, these felt pretty solid.  On a 5k they felt fine and the ride was fun but that night my feet were sore.  Thought it might’ve just been me or the route.  I wore different shoes on the same track the following day with no pain.  Then went back to these on day three and I had the same soreness.  The reveal for me is the bounce isn’t what I thought it’d be.  That threw the whole ride off for me.  To me this is a daily trainer that is best suited for light use or within the gym.  This isn’t something I’d plan on using for extended use outdoors or plan on putting into a training rotation.

Alphab-5

OVERALL

Heel fit was rough for me.  I still like wearing these shoes.  I wear them almost daily.  Instead of being a running shoe they are work shoes that don’t look super Dad or boring officy.  I think this shoe is marketed towards serious runners but I think it is more of a backup shoe, a gym shoe or a casual runners shoe.  I’d still take the Boost over the Bounce in this model and that might make it smooth enough to warrant throwing on an extra pair of socks to get that heel fit to a usable place.  For now and going forward this is going to be my goto shoe in the morning as I head to the office.  At least until there is a half foot of snow on the ground.

UA Lightening 2

I ended up writing a bunch of BS not related to the actual shoe review.  If you want to skip ahead to the review click here.

Not a great runner. Overweight. Two ACL repairs in the left knee. A bad sprain in the right ankle that hasn’t been right since I was 18. Yo and I’m 36. Calling myself a runner is a stretch. I prefer the elliptical. It leaves my joints happier after 5 days in a row. I still put in miles.

Motivation isn’t hard to find. I want to be in better shape. I pick my 2-year old up every morning and know I need to be around as long as I can be. New shoes aren’t motivation they are a perk. That cushy relaxed feel.

I got into this running game about 10 years ago. My dad needed a stent for his heart my wife had just been told she had higher cholesterol and I wasn’t in great shape. I knew nothing about running shoes. I bought a pair of ASICS and thought I’d figure it out. The first pair were ASICS 1150 and I quickly realized gel was cool but more gel was better. I found the Brooks Ghost 3 and the Nike Lunar Glide 2. Those were my shoes for almost three years. I put 5-10 miles a day on 5-days a week that first year. Mainly because my wife and I bought an elliptical. The elliptical wasn’t cheap and I decided I needed 320 uses to make it under $5 per run.

Again I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d listen to iTunes playlists and run. Everyday. Eventually, I started wearing out shoes so I got another pair.  My job at the time had me on my feet constantly.  I talked myself into a few expensive or nicer shoes. Lunar glides were onto the 3. It wasn’t the same. I tried style of ASICS (Kayano 10s) again but more supportive ones. I still wasn’t a serious runner just looking for comfort.

I settled on cushy natural shoes.  I haven’t been a brand loyalist as much as a specific shoe loyalist.  The thing I’m most loyal too is…the sale rack.  I’ll try just about anything if its 50% or more off.  Or if its just coming in under $50 in general.  Having been out of the shoe game for a while it took me longer than it should’ve to realize the cycles that running shoes go through.  They aren’t every fall and Christmas like basketball shoes.  They are geared toward the marathon seasons.  I was trying to find new running shoes after the season so I was buying just before new shoes came out.  I wasn’t buying an older generation I was just buying the current generation a few weeks before the new tech came out.  Finally, I bought a pair or some flywire Nike’s that just didn’t fit so I took them back to the local running store.  Side note I don’t look like a runner.  When I go into a running store they treat me, somewhat justly, as a non-serious customer.  They took back the flywire Nike’s and sold me a pair of last years Kayano’s at about a 40% discount.  What the f Jeffrey why weren’t you doing this all the while.  You aren’t serious enough to try to win a race let alone care about the tech in the shoes.  You just want your feet comfy.  Now, this sent me down the path of affordable shoes.

The most recent pair I acquired was from Scheel’s in Fargo.  Scheel’s is great they have an entire section of the men’s shoes that is clearance.  Pretty much everytime you stroll through there are different shoes in this area.  I wear a size 14 so this isn’t the most plentifully stocked shoe locally in the first place.  Of the stores in town none of the basketball specific stores stock the 14 outside of two styles (which is odd but whatever).  Two weeks ago we were at Scheels and they had four pairs of size 14 running shoes.  Two different pairs of Nikes, Brooks Ghost 10s and Under Armour Lightning 2s.  I already have a pair of Ghost 10s.  The Nikes were intriguing but the UAs were half the cost and I’ve never worn UA shoes before.  I got them no questions asked.

THE ACTUAL REVIEW

I’ve heard a lot about UA basketball shoes.  I’ve seen all of the different Steph Curry shoes.  I assumed they can’t be horrible if they’ve taken the market by such a fierce storm.  Since I’ve never actually owned them myself I wasn’t sure.  The other thing I’ve noticed about UA is that they seem to have lots and lots of different models.  This isn’t horrible because it allows people who have different bodies and running styles to find the correct shoe for them.  As a dude at the clearance rack who hasn’t research UA before I had more questions than answers.  The main answer I had was the $35 price tage with $110 crossed off below it.

I throw the shoes on.  The initial fit is fine.  The tongue is more traditional and not the sock liner that is the current rage.

I’m not currently sure what type of tongue I like the most.  The built-in bootie/sock liner is nice.  The tongue that isn’t fused all the way to the toe-box is nice at times too.  I like having more than one option in the closet.  Depending on what I’m doing sometimes I like a specific feel.  

I lace up the shoes after the tongue not being a bootie I realize there is an internal sockliner it’s just not part of the tongue.  Then I feel the cushioning and I’m sold.  I have narrow heels so I need a snug fit in the heel to feel locked in.  Even though the cushioning is amazing I need to walk around and see if I slip and slide a lot.  When I put on shoes I tie them tight because I need to keep my foot back in the heel.  This is probably the wrong way to do it.  I probably need half a size down instead of cutting off the circulation in my forefoot.  This is how I’ve always done it.  Unless someone teaches me otherwise this is what I do.  That’s when I finally notice this is a knit shoe.  Not sure why it took me this long to realize that the shoe was knit and not mesh, leather, or layered plastic overlays.  This is sweet.  My toes can be locked in pretty tightly but still have room to wiggle.  The heel is locked in, the foot is in securely and the cushioning is buttery.  The sole is a pretty straight-forward waffle.  The sole is mad-flexible though.  Before I looked at the pattern I assumed it was something similar to Nike’s free flex deal.  The midsole is cushy but there isn’t the feel of a shank or anything to help transfer weight or energy from front to back or to absorb impacts.  The side to side is wide-open too.  I don’t feel like I’m getting support or restriction – this isn’t something I care about but I notice it.

I’ve had the shoe for about a week and I’ve used it exclusively on the elliptical.  I’ve put 30 miles on them so far.  The shoes are springy, cushy and light.  I haven’t run outside nor do I plan too.  I’m down with these for the elliptical right now.  I need to get something over 10 miles on them at one point in time.  So far so good.  At $35 I’d buy them again so far.

 

Shoes

Shoes are awesome. I always remember digging my shoes. Early on I had sweet Kangaroos that were Velcro. The next pair I really remember is a pair of Pony baseball cleats. The tongue is really what I remember about those shoes. That and the fact they were white with minimal black accents. I was hooked.

The first basketball shoes I remember were Reebok Pumps sized 8.5 in second grade. Basketball and sports were a gateway into shoes. I needed new shoes constantly. My feet grew at a silly rate till 9th grade. I’d get a new out of ball shoes in the fall and the second pair around Christmas. New baseball cleats every spring. New football shoes in the fall. New daily kicks for school. New waterproof shoes for golf/caddying. I probably bought 6-10 pairs a year.

I’ve always had a narrow heel so Nike’s have worked well for me. I’d get new Nikes for everything. Then they were running sweatshops so I had to switch to a new brand. I tried everything. Didn’t find a lot I liked and started buying fewer shoes cut back on the sports I played. At some point in time, I started getting boutiques shoes or basically anything that wasn’t Nike.

I cut down on my yearly purchases. Had two or three total pairs. Then I started getting into running. Now I’m back to full-blown shoe addict. To help myself go through my closet and assess the shoes I have and my actual needs I’m going to start reviewing all of my shoes. One a week till I get through them all. The whole way if I can’t see a purpose for the shoe in my collection it’ll be gone.

#Shoes

Floating

A week ago my wife went to the float spa. When she went she thought it was odd and a bit hokey. Then two days later her mind felt clearer and more fresh than it had in a long time. For two days she was telling me I needed to book an appointment. The first day she got back from the spa she was dogging it so hard I was skeptical.

I booked an appointment at the end of the day, the last one they had. I didn’t do any research into floating before going in for my session. The spa here in Fargo is new and clean. The women that met me at the front counter was stoked for me. She told me everything she could about floating and the spa before I got in.

the room is dimly lit. There are two rooms. The shower room and the float room. The shower room is minimal. The whole room is tiled Floor to ceiling. On one end there were two hooks for your cloths. There is a robe and slippers in case you need to run to the bathroom mid float. There was a wooden shelf for the rest of your things. It also had some towels, ear plugs and makeup removing towelettes. The shower is mounted on the ceiling. Being 6’4″ this was cool. The lighting was calming and gently. There was soft New Age music. In the tub there were two controls one for the lights and one for the music. There is shelf space in the float room for a phone or a small personal item like a phone. I wouldn’t suggest being in your phone. It’s so salty in there I can’t imagine that’d be good for your phone. The float room is basically the tub and a door. I should’ve taken pictures but I was more focused on experiencing the moment.

You take a quick shower before floating. Then you get in. I didn’t know what to expect. It’s warm, verging on hot in the float room. I carefully sit in the oversized tub that you float in. The lady who worked there had told me you’d float instantly. When I sat down I hit the bottom. Instantly I was like oh shit I’m not going to float. The whole time you are with yourself. I can’t explain enough how different it is to just be with yourself and your thoughts. As soon as I lay back I’m floating. That 5 seconds of will I actually float is over. Now I’m trying to understand the environment.

Where are the buttons she told me about that control the lights and the music. I kill the lights. Instead of a light blue faint light it’s completely dark. I love it. I listen to the music for a few minutes I’m trying to just find the most comfortable space for me. Maybe it’s this music maybe it’s not. I put my arms above my head, below my head. I’m thinking about the random stuff in life. Do I want to podcast? Do I want to keep blogging? How will the Wolves be this year? Do the Twins flip guys at the deadline? Do I like my arms by my side more than above my head? Wow my ankle is typically sore from a bad sprain years ago and it feels different. It doesn’t feel good but it’s like when people say they can tell it’s going to rain that feeling i your bones. Slowly I flex my ankle to feel everything in it. I’m trying to find the bounds of the tub. Can I float side to side and top to bottom? Where can or should I position my leg to maximize the feeling in my ankle? The Twins really should unload four or more guys. I mean they aren’t going to the playoffs so why not get something for the impending free agents? My right shoulder blade almost always has a knot in it. I’m thinking about that and the feeling in my ankle. I’m trying to focus on the not relaxing and as if on command it starts too. Then I’m wondering if it was just happening and I felt it then intuitively thought about it and created some sort of internal feedback loop. I can’t believe the Wolves hired Thibs and now I can’t believe we haven’t fired him. Thoughts slide out and I focus more on my body. I can feel that shoulder gently relaxing. My neck feels good. I am just enjoying the way the water makes your skin feel so smooth.

Instead of random thoughts about sports or politics I feel like I am choosing what’s next on tap. Floating side to side. Oh snap I sneeze. In the process I’m trying not to get any salt water in my mouth/nose. Success. I lay back in the tub. I like my damn lips. Horrible. I can’t explain how horrible it was to lick my lips. I’m back to floating and enjoying the weightlessness. Feeling my back, my neck, my legs, my arms and just every part of my body. My elbows seem to float hoveringly above the rest of my body. Like my elbows are hollow or styrofoam.

I start to feel warm and wonder if my time is up or nearing completion. Almost as soon as this thought creeps in the intercom cuts in and the women from the front desk tells me it’s time to shower. I get out shower and get dressed. The shower was amazing. Just more cleansing than most.

Overall I enjoyed it. I found it easier to focus. To be clear minded. Relaxed. It was good. I book another. More to come.