How to get a 15% discount on Netflix via iTunes or get 5x via Chase Ink

There are two ways to make this happen:

  1. Sign up for Netflix with Chase Ink, this will give you the equivalent of 11% off if you have a Chase Sapphire card and can use the points.
  2. Buy a bunch of iTunes gift cards and use them to pay for your Netflix. This works, but is a bit of a pain.

Here’s how to do it:

It turns out that you can get a 15% discount on Netflix just by billing Netflix through iTunes. To do this, you login to your iOS or AppleTV and click on restart membership this then pushes Netflix bills through iTunes.

Now watch for relatively frequent 15% of iTunes gift cards through PayPal and voila you can now double dip. To get this triple dip:

  1. Use to get a rebate for going to eBay, this is normally 1-2% or so.
  2. Join the eBay rewards program to get another 1% off unless you are buying computers and gift cards. Boohoo!

However this doesn’t apply to give cards, so, as an aside you can actually VOIP through the Netflix application, so they make it super easy.

  1. Use your credit card to get 2-6% off depending on your card
  2. Then get the 15% off for buying the gift card.
  3. Logon to iTunes and redeem
  4. Cancel your Netflix account and wait for it to time out (normally until the end of month June 28th for instance)
  5. After your account expires, logon to Netflix on an Apple device and restart your membership from there.

It’s small, but this adds up to about a 20% discount off of iTunes

Hex release skewer on a Disc brake bike

One thing that has been bothering me is that two of my bikes have quick release skewers and disc brakes. Although unlikely, it is possible that the QR can come loose. Most folks are shifting to through axle which is more reliable.

However, it turns out that you can convert from QR to thru axle by going to the maker of your hub and getting a different kit, then you get a vise and knock out the center piece (or ask a bike shop to do it and voila, you have converted). Of course, this doesn’t help if you bike has QR style frame (that is it is open at the bottom where it goes.

With DT Swiss, they have a nice chart that shows you the kit you need, so there is another long term project.

As an aside, here are the standard axle radius and lengths:

Another alternative is to replace your QR skewers with a rear wheel skewer.

  • 5mm hex release skewer so in effect you lose the quick release but it is really in there to make sure you have tightened down hard. In terms of lengths, the typically standard for road bikes have been 100mm front and 130 mm rear, but with disc brakes they are have typically 135mm in the rear (the front is the same). You can get these from. The steel ones are pretty cheap and are mainly sold for theft prevention. Really cheap at $13 for a set
  • Control Tech Ti Race Light Tech ($64 for a pair at Jensen USA) these are just 26 grams in titanium and don’t have quick release or they are 47 grams in steel.
  • DT Swiss RWS E-Thru Road, this is kind of the best of both worlds, you get a thru axle that you tighten down. Comes in 100mm for the front and 142mm for the rear. This weighs 58 grams, but is compatible with quick release frames. They are heavier but easier to position and more expensive at $43 per axle.

Also remember that disc brakes are about one pound heavier as well, so if you’ve got disc and paid the penalty might as well be safe


Getting D-fly wireless to work

Well this had lots of parts but is pretty cool. Basically with the older Ultegra Di2 system, you need to add a wireless transmitter to update it and for it to give you gear and other information. It’s not really documented how to make this all work, so here’s a quick guide:

  1. DN101 Battery. First you need a new battery as it has the additional memory
  2. You need to update the battery firmware by downloading a Windows application and plugging it into the battery charger for the Di2 system with a USB A connector
  3. Then you need to go buy either the EW-WU101 which plugs in at the derailleur or the EW-WU111 which is inline and plugs in inside the frame or at the front junction box.
  4. You need to buy this little plastic tool to plug and unplug the DI2 wires. There is a no really clear instructions for how to do this, so you have to search YouTube, but basically to unplug it you take the rounded end and it grips the wires and you pull to pop them out. To plug them in, the wire goes in along the longer axis and then you use it to push it in.
  5. Now download the IOS or Android Phone or iPad application from Shimano called E-Tube (don’t get me started on the names!).
  6. Now to get it to connect with Bluetooth LE, there’s a tricky part. Click on the junction box button that is underneath. Do not hold it otherwise you will change the shifting. As soon as you see the red and green lights blink alternatively on the junction box (either underneath your stem or in the bar tube). Stop.
  7. Now to to the application and hit connect, it will force you to set a new passcode for bluetooth (the default is 000000). Don’t forget that code!
  8. You can now look through the various parameters and select what you want. The most important is to update the firmware (so you no longer have to drag your laptop out to update the shifting system.

This is all pretty cool, so now with this unit, you can use ANT+ or BLE compatible systems to read:

  1. The current gear you are in
  2. The battery state of your shifting system

Getting ready for hiking with tents and trekking poles

Seems like we are always needing more of these, so once again, let’s take a look at ultralight gear for tents, trekking poles and water purifiers, so the ultralight list at Outdoor Gearlabs is super helpful


Well, there is a tradeoff between lightweight and being sturdy, but we have the Big Agnes UV 2 which is just awesome and can fit three in a pinch, but Outdoor Gear Labs has great reviews. Two are basically tied for those who are frequent campers and backpackers:

  1. Zpacks Duplex Ultralight 2. ($600 direct). If you are really insane, then this is the tent for you, it is only 21 ounces mainly because you use your trekking poles to hold it up (clever!) but costs a fortune.
  2. Nemo Dagger 2P ($400 from REI) is a big heavier at 3 lb 12 ounces (Ok everything is relative), but more durable. If you are an REI member, then you get 10% off as a rebate and I hope you have a free REI card so you get an additional 3% off. Finally use and you can score about 2% more.
  3. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2P ($450 from EMS, Backcountry, Moosejaw). We got this through a friend for about half off and the reuglar UL2 was a dream. This one is high volume and the only drawback is that to get to 3 lb 1 ounce, the material is very, very delicate. Also, EMS, Backcountry and Moosejaw regularly have big discounts, so sign up for their newsletters. Also cashbackmonitor regularly shows 12% rebates from these sellers plus whatever you get on your card. So it’s expensive, but that takes a little sting out of it.

As an aside note you will also need a footprint to go underneath, you can either get a dedicated one from the vendor or just get a 4×8 Tyvek for $16 from Amazon

If you want the 3 person versions, they are just a little bit heavier and more expensive but work better for bigger folks.

Trekking Poles

There are lots of fancy ones out there now and you can even get them at CostCo, but two years ago we got the Gossamer Gear LT3, these are fixed height, but weigh in at 3 ounces each. They are fixed in height though, so you need a traveling tube to carry them. Now looking at Outdoor Gear Labs and Switchback Travel again they like are heavier at 17 ounces or so, so:

  1. Gossamer Gear LT5. Just out, this is 9 ounces in total, so much lighter and has three connectors, delicate as it is carbon fiber, but lightweight. It’s expensive at $195 but comes from a small vendor, so feel good about helping the little guy.
  2. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z. These are 10 ounces so close to the Gossamer, but cheaper at $160 from big retailers, so you can get another 10% offer pretty easily like Backcountry. For about $100, you can get the aluminum versions that are 2-3 ounces heavier. These are fixed, so use the sizing chart, but basically 120cm is for 5’7” to 5’11” and 130cm for taller folks.
  3. Gossamer Gear LT3. If you are a real weight fiend,this is just 6 ounces per pair and cost $120 for a pair or so, but is fixed length, personally, I haven’t found that to matter too much, just grip the pole at at a different place. Also, get the one with out a strap, you don’t really need it, just get a little string and tack it on. The main limitation is that they are hard to take with you on airplanes or stick into your pack.

For the more durable:

  1. Leki Micro Vario Carbon. This one is relatively light at 14.5 ounces and packs small. It is less durable, but should work for those who are more athletic. $200 so it is premium prices, but light.
  2. Leki Carbon Ti. 15 ounces and packs longer. It’s a little cheaper at $180

Sleeping Pads

We have been using the Thermarest Neo-Rest XLite based on Outdoor Gear labs and Switchback Travel and it is great, so looking again the choices are:

  1. Therma-rest Neo-Rest XLite still seems like they make the top pad, although at $160 at REI and others right now it should give you a little pause but at 12 ounces with an R value of 15 it is worth it.
  2. Neo-Rest XLite Short. This is much shorter for just the torso and is $130 and just 8 ounces
  3. Gossamer Nightlight. If you are really hard core, you can get some high density foam and it comes in at 5-6 ounces mainly because it is only for your torso. The sacrifices we make for weight.


Well, we’ve been using the Osprey Atmos 65 as our ultralight weight choice and it has been great, but what’s new from Outdoor Gear Labs review of ultralight backpacks with the note that around here we need to carry bear canisters so can’t just take the lightest pack:

  1. Z Packs Arcblast 55. This really is lightweight at 21 ounces (?!) but you should onliy carry 10-20 pounds. Also you can customize it and add weight to it, but it will be more versatile.
  2. Osprey Exos 48. This still remains on top weight just 37.4 ounces and can carry just about anything. Note there is a 38 and a 58, so you can actually get something larger if you need it. The main thing is that it is great for 30 pound loads, so get this if you need to carry a bigger load.
  3. Gossamer Gear Gorilla. Man these guys are cleaning up in this category. It’s a little heavier but can handle 30 pounds. It is pretty small though, so hard to fit a bear canister at 38 liters.


We have a Snow Peak Titanium pot and it is a miracle of lightness, so what does Outdoor Gear labs like now:

  1. G4Free. This is $20 at Amazon and perfect for hiking. It is 1.2 pounds of stuff
  2. Snow Peak Titanium. This is an incredible 7 ounces for three pieces and it really only good for heating water (about all we do on trips). It is $80 at Amazon.

Water Purifiers

We had great luck with the Sawyer water filter combined with a good water system is the best way to go. Just one ounce or so. It’s $20 from Amazon

Sun Hats

OK they look dorky, but the sun is not your friend while hiking, the Sunday Afternoon Adventure Hat has a great rating. $38 at Amazon.

Hydration Packs

We fell in love with the MSR Dromlite system a few years ago. The four liter bag is perfect and doesn’t leak, so Outdoor Gearlabs still likes them but also recommends:

  1. Geigerrig Hydration Pack. IT’s main claim to fame is that you can pressurize it, so no more sucking, just open and drink 🙂
  2. Hydrapak Shapeshift. This is only $20 and is super lightweight and like the Geigerrig, you can dish wash it since you can flip it inside out.
  3. Dromlite. Still the best if you don’t need it as a hydration pack but just for water storage. Light and strong.

Water bottles

Hard to mess with success in water bottles, the $9 at Amazon Nalgene wide mouth is still awesome and the $40 at Amazon Hydro Flask is the perfect insulated one to keep in the car.


Printing photos the details

OK I’ve never quite figured out the many settings that Adobe Photoshop has for printing as I barely ever do it. First a few notes:

  1. If you want to print some favorites out of an Apple shared album, this is actually pretty hard. There is a like button for instance, but in Mac Photos there is no way to sort by Likes or even to see what people have liked, so if you. have a 500 photo album, it’s pretty useless as a feature. Instead, if you want others to pick photos for you, you need to basically have them create a new album or iMessage you the photos. There is a favorites button but it doesn’t work for shared albums, so yuck Apple!
  2. When you print with a fancy printer, you want to use the RAW data and not the Jpegs this is because Jpegs are 8 bit color and the RAWs are typically 12-14 bit. Many of the fancy printers support greater than 8 bit printing, so load up the photos in a TIFF and then make sure to click Send 16 bit data
  3. Finally you need to understand what Black point compensation is, it’s pretty technical, but the TL;dr is that you should normally check it, it makes sure that at dark color levels, the dark colors don’t get clipped to pure black.
  4. Then there is the final parameter the mysterious color management, the TL;dr is that you normally leave it at Relative Colormetric but for some photos with lots of saturation where there are lots of out of gamut colors, you can try Perceptual

And of course make sure to let Photoshop manage the colors and pick the right color profile for your paper, use the ICC decoder ring to figure it out.

10TB Drives and Synology DS-2413+ and DS-1812+

Well Synology has just been awesome with compatibility and updates, but hitting the first signs of obsolescence. It looks like Synology systems older than June 2014 have an 8TB hard disk limit. I know, I know, that seems like lots of capacity, but it’s not well documented if you look at the Synology compatibility lists you can see this note. So beware as you buy drives.

And as always have a backup plan and run with some sort of hard drive backup. For us what we are doing is putting 10TB drives into the DS-2413+ and then migrating the smaller disks (6TB and so on) down to the older models.

I also can’t find compatibility data for Drobo but they’ve been handling up to 8TB well.

In terms of what drives to get here’s a reminder:

  1. Use a reputable vendor, when you buy from Amazon make sure you are actually getting it from them. Just bought a set and they came in hand bubble wrap as they were probably broken up from an OEM kit.
  2. Get a drive with a five year warranty, it may cost more, but you aren’t Backblaze, do you really really want to deal with rebuilding your array.
  3. Look for high ratings particularly at Newegg, the Amazon reviews are pretty useless because they combine lots of product categories and of course there are many spammers there.

Given that here are some drives to look at:

  1. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 512e. At $410 it’s a relative steal, with prices around $40/TB being good. This is really a 4K driver underneath but emulations 512 byte sectors, amazingly it’s right now cheaper than the Iron Wolf but has 2.5M hours MTBF and a five year warranty.
  2. Seagate Iron Wolf Pro. This is a NAS drive at $420 at Newegge also 7200 but has the 5 year warranty and 1.2M MTBF
  3. Seagate Iron Wolf. Wow these are cheap at $367 at Newegg and they are faster 7200 rpm, but only have a 3 year warranty and 1M hour MTBF, but are designed for 24/7 use.

Canon 400mm f/2.8l ii is usm and Canon 600MM F/4L II IS USM

Wow these are some lenses, thanks first of all to, they are just awesome. I needed these lense for shooting a sailing regatta that was probably 1km away, it’s tough to get shots like this, but at least the boats are moving slow, so I could use ultra high resolution bodies (the Canon 5DS R and the Sony A7R II).

The really tough choice was picking lenses, I have always loved the Nikon 200 F/2 as it was just so clear and wonderful two years ago and for some reason I didn’t have very fond memories of the Canon 300mm F/2.8 II. The main reason is that you lose quite a bit of image quality with a 2x teleconverter I think,

This time I wanted to see if the Metabones E to EF adapter was a choice, so off to Canon I went. Wow what an experience. First of all, the Canon 5DS R really worked well with the 600MM F/4L and 1.4x extender mainly because conditions were super bright and of course this camera is very fast. I was able to shoot at ISO 200 and even wide open at f/5.6 this lense was tack sharp. That’s quite a bit of reach at 840MM (with full frame 35mm, that’s a 24x zoom). This is quite a lense as DxO says it achieves 37MP with the 50MP sensor on the 5DS R.

And with so many pixels, even with a crop by another 2-4x (so that’s an effective 48-96x zoom), the photos were very usable. The autofocus by the way worked very well, with AI Servo on the Canon or the equivalent on the Sony, object tracking worked really well.

Finally, we also used the Metabones with a Sony A7R II, this was a little more difficult because the Metabones seemed to have trouble connecting problem to the  A7R. In fact, lens rentals doesn’t recommend it for professional shoots and I can see why. When it was working properly though (required some jiggle of the the adapter and rebooting the adapter by removing the camera), the image quality was excellent. Theoretically the 42MP vs 50MP should have made a difference but I couldn’t see it.

One disappointment was that I never quite got the video mode of the A7R to work, it is supposed to automatically stabilize through the metabones, but in looking at the video, I couldn’t quite get it to work.

Finally, if you are going to use lenses like this, the Wembley Sidewinder is a must have, it converts your tripod and makes it easy to move a big heavy lenses set like this. And make sure you bring a beefy tripod and put a weight on it, with this kind of zoom, even someone walking causes vibration. I had both image stabilization turned on and also shot at 1/800 and this seemed to work.

Update on cool biking gear

OK, I’ve been updated to a new bike and here are some notes:

  1. The recommendations on tires have changed quite a bit. I used to ride 23mm at 110 psi, but now folks are recommending a wider 25mm at 90 psi, apparently it’s about the same footprint on the road and much more stable.
  2. Heart rate monitors. Wow these have really improved, while you can still wear a chest strap (they have essentially infinite battery life), the new Scosche Rhythem+ is just $80 and has a simple rechargeable battery that lasts 8 hours. Way more comfortable to have an arm band than something that is around your chest.
  3. Power meters. DC Rainmaker was right, the Powertap P1 pedals are expensive, but boy are they easy to setup and they just use a standard lithium AAA battery. Setup with the old Garmin 800 was  a snap.
  4. Shimano automatic shifting, well the guys in the peloton don’t need it, but with a new battery and a firmware update. You do need a Windows machine to do this, now you just hit the right paddles to go up and down the gears and the front derailleur shifts automatically for you. Nice and no more cross chaining.
  5. Be careful how you leave your bike, if you accidentally leave the shift lever against a wall, it will drain the battery of the Di2. You are warned 🙂
  6. While most folks still use water bottles, I find the trusty dusty Camelbak Mule still more convenient and probably more aero, plus your bike looks way cooler without cages.

Things left to do:

  1. Shimano D-fly Di2 transmitter. The latest firmware let’s you install wireless transmitter that speaks ANT+ and Bluetooth, so the shifting system can tell your bike computer what gear you are in. It’s a little complicated to get the parts, but Shimano has a good list. The EW-WU101 is the variant that connects at the rear derailleur, you take it from basically hook it inline. This works because the two connectors are on the same side. The EW-WU111 is for internal mounting inside the frame so the connectors are opposite each other. You also need a newer battery the DN101 because it has the firmware to manage this and it needs more memory.
  2. New maps for the Garmin 800, turns out you don’t have to pay for maps, you can use Open Street Maps. It’s a little clumsy, but DC Rainmaker describes it pretty well, someone is running a server which scrapes and reformats Open Street Maps, go to and select bicycle map, then choose the segments you want. You will get an email later with the location of a huge file. You then copy the DMG into your SD card in the Garmin directory and you should have it on your Garmin 800 at least.
  3. Cycle computer. You do need a new Garmin like the 810 to actually see the data however. Not surprising since the Garmin 800 is eight years old, but it does work pretty well.

LG C6 55 inch would make an awesome PC monitor the LG 55 C6 is an incredible OLED screen. At $1400 it’s expensive but nearly 40% off its initial price. It’s kind of the perfect gamers screen. Talk about immersive! Main issue is getting one that has a defect. Amazon is awesome because they will just pick one up and give u a new one. Or Best Buy because they have a local store With a good policy but it’s tempting to get it drone Beach!