Applause for PaleoBarefoots Paws

Last year I wrote a review of, and made some videos about the PaleoBarefoot chain mesh shoes from GoSt Barefoots. At the time I noted that they’re great for running off road, particularly on ice, sand and other natural surfaces. I really couldn’t imagine a more suitable shoe for those surfaces, but they were limited by the fact that they really couldn’t be used well on hard surfaces such as tile, wood, or shiny slippery surfaces. This meant that if you wanted to use them for watersport, they were great unless you were on a boat or dive platform etc. Well, they found a solution, and it’s really quite amazing.

When you see dogs and cats run around, even jumping up onto slippery surfaces, they maintain grip really well, due to the structure of their paws. This idea has now been taken and applied to the PaleoBarefoots. By applying small areas of a smooth, flexible, but very durable resin to the sole of the Paleos, you achieve the same sort of feel and properties as the original Paleos but with the added benefit of amazing grip on slippery surfaces.

PaleoBarefoots with Paws
PaleoBarefoot Anterra with Paws

One of the other benefits is that because the  PaleoBarefoot Paws only cover small areas the full flexibility of the originals is maintained, but the shoe overall is lent some structure by their distribution and shaping.

Since I already know that the Paleos are great for all sorts of running and general ‘off-road’ use, I decided to try them out with a sport where I’d previously found them not to be ideally suited, because of the slippery surfaces involved – Kayaking.

I’m privileged to occasionally volunteer with a wonderful San Diego Organization called “Outdoor Outreach“, who help at-risk and underprivileged youth by taking them out to teach them things like surfing, kayaking and rock climbing. Since getting hold of the Paws coincided with going out Kayaking on an Outdoor Outreach expedition, I decided that this would be the perfect test opportunity.

As with the regular Paleos (and if you have those you can send them in for adding the Paws should you want to) they performed perfectly and very protectively on the beach area as we were unloading the kayaks, and in helping launch the kayaks off the beach. This is an activity where conventional footwear becomes completely sodden and clogged with sand – as everyone else who was wearing regular shoes quickly found out! As soon as I hopped into the kayak (which has a slippery surface on the inside) my feet started to dry out nicely and all the sand just washed through – this is one of my favorite things about the Paleos! The grip was great, and I had no problems with the surface or using my feet to provide stability and grip while paddling.

Kayaking with PaleoBarefotos
Kayaking with dry feet and good grip is much more fun!

We had a great paddle around the beautiful San Diego harbor, where you can see California harbor seals, sea-lions and all sorts of interesting ships and submarines – even occasionally dolphins although we didn’t see any this day. The youth we were with had a lot of fun learning to navigate kayaks and enjoying the view. My feet in the Paleos were very comfortable throughout. No chafing or coldness because they just dry out fast if they get wet, and your feet stay at the ideal temperature.

One other nice thing about the Paleos is the amount of attention and comment they get! This was particularly so when we returned. Imaging getting out of a kayak from the sea (hint, you have to navigate through waves and you will get wet!) then jumping out of it onto wet sand, and pulling it up the beach. In conventional shoes, you will end up with shoes completely clogged with wet sand – and everyone did! They could see that the Paleos just stayed clean, anything that gets on them just flows through and they start to dry out immediately, which keeps your skin comfortable. They’re also made of metal, which everyone thought was cool! I got a lot of questions about the comfort, but they could feel that they are very smooth and could see I had no problem wearing them for several hours, in and out of the water, and once they compared them with their own wet, sandy sneakers, they could see the benefits!

PaleoBarefoots Paws Grip
PaleoBarefoots Paws provide excellent grip

I’ve also tried these out around the house, for instance on tiles and polished wood floor, and the grip is really good, but these shoes are meant for being outdoors and exploring nature, and they’ve really made so many situations possible where barefoot would be dangerous or almost impossible. The fit and comfort is great, and in my opinion, because of the added structure the Paws provide, they seem to stay in place even better than before.

You can check out more about the GoSt PaleoBarefoots on their website.

Kayaks in San Diego Harbor
Kayaks in San Diego Harbor


QR Code #FAIL or not?

QR (Quick Response) codes are becoming ubiquitous in advertising (and business cards – I even have one that has only a big orange QR code on it), and yet many people just don’t know what they are. As a geeky kind of guy, I’m interested in how they can be used and in finding interesting applications for them (one of the nicest uses I’ve seen is on this board – all the points of interest were marked with QR codes that contained location information).Info Map with QR Codes

So, when I saw the article linked below, I found myself first of all being a bit annoyed that the writer was criticizing the use of these codes, and then more and more agreeing with him, as he’s absolutely right. We’ve mostly only done boring and stupid stuff with them. It’s a great article, and also contains some creative ideas about how they could be used. If you’re in marketing or advertising, you should certainly think about some of the points raised:

If you have an iPhone (as I do) you’ll need a third party reader for QR codes – my favorite is “Red Laser” which is also available for Android. So next time you see a QR code somewhere, pay a bit more attention – it might be the start of something cool.


Seth Godin talks about Typography

Typography; we see it everywhere (natch), and much of it sucks. Companies go through a lot of pain to match their typefaces to their brand, often unsuccessfully. Indeed, some typefaces invoke physical reactions in me (I can’t bear to read or write in Times New Roman and Comic Sans gives me this face). In the below linked post, Seth Godin (marketing guru, computer scientist and philosopher) takes a swipe at bad typography (including a favorite gripe of mine, SAFETY signs) and points out the excellent “Typekit“.

The rest of his blog is worth reading too.

All change please.

Well well. Here we are in 2011 (those of us that made it – and let’s face it the others wouldn’t be reading this), and lots of things happened. First, I got a new job, back at my old job – which makes me very happy (hopefully made some others happy too, though I guess it maybe also made some others sad). So now I’m pretty much living in the USA and so far enjoying it very much.

What it does mean is that I really don’t have time for much else except doing my job, so I’ve handed over a lot of my old blogging on AVIEN to my good friend David Harley.

I’ve also stepped down from playing with My Silent Wake, which was a pretty difficult decision, but difficulty of arranging rehearsals and little time to practice means that I wouldn’t be able to give it the dedication the band deserves. Happily they seem to have found a good replacement. I’ll still hopefully be able to contribute to recording.

Stupidity can be fatal

I recently rented a car in the USA, so I’ll use it as an example for the point I want to make, though the phenomenon is by no means exclusive to that car rental company nor the country – in fact, the same thing happened to me in Germany in a car rented from a different company. So, when you’re in a new place, you’re likely to need some way of navigating, and with the wonders of modern technology, a GPS guidance system makes sense. It certainly makes sense from a safety point of view – you avoid having to read paper maps or scribbled instructions from a piece of paper while driving. However, there’s one major FAILure that these systems suffer. Some bureaucrat somewhere has obviously decided that you need to be warned not to operate the system while driving. Great – I can understand that, you should pay attention when you drive, and the fewer distractions the better.
However, when you are actually driving, and you try to operate the GPS system, you then get a pop up screen warning you that you shouldn’t operate it while driving – which you have to click to acknowledge (after trying to read it while driving), and then you have to clear another screen to get to the actual navigation setup. Now, these popups don’t come when you’re stationary. So, when you most need to pay attention; while driving; you actually are distracted more by having to read a complex and annoying set of further instructions which has exactly the opposite effect to the intention. So you spend more time reading the screen and being distracted from your driving – the saftey message is much more likely to kill you than cure you from messing with the GPS, which is sometimes necessary. It seems to me that there’s much more to be gained by popping up the warning when you’re stationary, and if it’s so concerning that you can’t operate it while driving, you simply disable the ability to reprogram it while the car is moving – or just minimize the interference from the system, and allow fast reprogramming.

India Launches Moon Probe

Since I was a small child, I have been fascinated with flight, but more than that with the idea of space travel. Nothing else quite has the power to awe and inspire me so much as reading about or discovering things about space. Therefore today I had a very moving experience of watching the launch of India’s Chandrayaan 1 Spacecraft. Sadly I did not see it live, although some of my friends did go – the launch site is about 100km from here – but watching it on the TV brought a tear to my eye.

There is something so majestic about the idea of discovery, journeying into the unknown. Although this is an unmanned mission, manned missions are planned in coming years. While there are many things India needs in terms of basic infrastructure and so on, it is a modern country with the potential to be a world leader, so I believe that this sort of program can only serve the interests of the country in the long term. Those who say the money could be better spent have perhaps missed what the space program is bringing to India in terms of partnerships with the rest of the world – including showcasing India’s extraordinary potential for technological partnerships that comes from a highly educated workforce and an inventiveness brought about through necessity.

One of the things I love most about India is the feeling of progression, that something is being built (it’s not hard to get that feeling, there is construction everywhere and nothing ever seems to quite get finished!), and it’s hard not to feel proud to be a small part of that progression.

Watching India launch herself towards the wider universe I can only stand in awe at what humankind has achieved in the 105 years since we first took flight.

The BBC has an article about the launch of the Chandrayaan 1 rocket at