Saturday, December 6, 2014

First Impressions: Android 5.0.1 on Nexus 7 2013

Yesterday Lollipop finally was pushed to my Nexus 7 2013 device.  The download itself was pretty quick, but the update took sometime.  I put the tablet down and went and made some dinner and when I came back it was still updating.   I think it took about 35 minutes for everything to complete.

Right from the start you already see the Material Design aspect of Lollipop on the tablet.  It looks brighter, and the ease of getting around for the mast part is easier.  It did take me a minute to find the settings from the drop down menu, did not realize to pull down twice.

So far I have poked around in all the settings just to get a feel for it.  The first area I wanted to look at was the profiles.  I would like to see how effective they are for setting up a kids profile

The setup itself was pretty easy.  First things first you need to setup a screen lock for your primary user.  After that you create the new profile and select the apps that you would like the other user to be able to access.

I set it up for my kids to be able to just play games on it, and not have access to play store, twitter, facebook, ect.  The one thing that would be nice, and I may have missed it but give settings for stuff like Youtube.  Some Parental controls in there would be nice, maybe there are some already in the app itself, but does it work with profile switching?  Other programs not owned by Google, I wonder if they have the ability to use the profiles to set themselves up accordingly.  Say Netflix, if its your default account its wide open, but under the other account you might be able to set it up for the kids interface.

Another nice thing about the new version of Android is the speed, its seems to have increased, this could be because of the use of ART vice DAVLIK or it could be the code, or more likely a combination of the both.  Now to have the rest of the apps to start updating to benefit from Lollipop.

Now I am waiting for my Nexus 7 2012 to be updated via OTA to Lollipop.  Hope that happens soon, or I may have to do it myself.   I also hope that it will "speed" up the older Nexus 7 as it seems to be showing its age.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Review of Phillips Hue Lights

About two months ago I was talking with a friend about wireless lights, wanting Bluetooth or WiFi LED bulbs mostly just for the fun of it.  Most of it was just talk as we did not know anything like that currently existed, but thanks to the internet we found something pretty quickly.

We found a few items that would possibly fit the bill.  The LIFX, and the Phillips Hue are the ones that come to mind at the moment, but I know there were already a few more out there around the time of purchase of the Hue.  The LIFX at the time was only available online, as it was just completing its round on Kickstarter, and the Phillips Hue which was available at Apple.

Update: I think both of the bulbs are extremely expensive in terms of light bulbs, and more of a luxury even with the suggested life span of up to 25 years.  The LIFX goes for 99$, while a Hue bulb goes for 60$.  Now the Hue sounds cheaper, but remember you need a base station for it, which comes in a starter pack costing 200$ (3 bulbs included).  LIFX uses WiFi and Mesh to talk between the bulbs and does not have a base station, while Hue uses WiFi at the base station and ZigBee to talk to the bulbs. That about ends what I know about LIFX.  And as of today there are a few other companies coming out with smart bulbs (LG, Samsung) that I know about.

We decided to go with Hue, and purchased a starter pack. The base station like stated earlier uses Zigbee to talk to each of the bulbs, and each bulb from there can act as a repeater.  Initial setup was a piece of cake, we had about 6 to start with a grew to about 12 over a short period of time.  We use the Android apps to access the lights, and one PC has WinHue installed to access the lights.  The basic phillips app is OK, it does what it needs to do to access the lights, but no bells and whistles really.

To really see what these bulbs can do you have to purchase some of the other apps on Google Play/Itunes.  One app lets us play fireworks, another app turns it into a disco party, and another will set the lights on in random colors.  I use an app called LampShade that allows me to group the bulbs, and then set up alarms to turn on/off the lights at certain times.

Geo fencing is also enabled on a few of the apps but have not played with it to much at this point.  It would be easier then opening the app every time I get home to turn on the lights.

About a month into using the bulbs they all disconnected from the bridge, and would not reconnect unless we setup a lamp about 2 inches away from the base station and reconnected each bulb one at a time.  This took about 30 minutes, and we were back up and running.  Not exactly sure why that happened, and the other day I hit the on/off from the wall, so now the bedroom light does not register through the app anymore.  It will probably take a bit to get this one back running.

Our outside light that is also a Hue is also hit or miss, no rhyme or reason why some days the app will make it work, and other days it will not.  We moved the bridge away from the WiFi, and away from the cable boxes, speakers thinking maybe interference.   It does say that Zigbee works on the 2.4Ghz.  That helped a little, still iffy with the outside light.

Even with all it quirks, and price it still is a great light, and a good conversation point.  When you tell someone you have WiFi smart bulbs they take a second look and ask to say again.  One thing I am hoping for is having a light switch of sorts for those lazy days you don't want to pull out your phone.

In future posts, I will talk about other things we are planning to do with our Hue, how we are expanding, and possible "hacking" of the system.  Maybe incorporating other companies lights, ect.  Also I might try and pick up some of the other companies bulbs to try and compare them to the Hue.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Deciding on a new phone

Its that time again, trying to decide on a new phone.  I am currently running a Samsung Galaxy III with CM11.  I am wanting to switch off AT&T wireless and go with someone else.  Currently I am thinking of going with T-Mobile as they are more cost effective then my current setup.

We have two phones that are not on a family plan, so I might have to move them to that to begin with.  Just had a long conversation with ATT about my current setup.  100$ in overages, and we got a text about the overages at 100 minute mark roughly.  That was very nice of them to wait till we hit about 100$ over our normal bill.

Looking at ATT Mobile share I can probably use the 10GB plan as it shows that I average about 5GB per month between the two phones.  That would put us at about 130$ which is alot better then the 275$ that I just got handed to me.

I was trying to see how much it would cost on TMobile but whenever I select family plan it still reverts to the simple plan so I cannot get an accurate price point to see if it is worth it to jump ship.  

The phones themselves that I have been looking at: Samsung Galaxy S5.  The HTC One(M8) and the OnePlus One.  The best value is probably the OnePlus One at 350$ for a 64GB model, but that would be up front.  If I got the phones on one of the carriers it would probably add about 20$ per phone per month. To many variables to try and figure out how much I will be paying each month on these phones.

If anyone has suggestions let me know.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

A week with a Pebble

I have been wearing my Pebble now for about a week all the time.  Since I have not worn a watch in a really long time, and this being a smart watch I wanted to see just what it could do for me. I just started a class for work this week, and while we are able to have our cell phones with us, its really not polite to be checking it every 5 minutes.

With the Pebble it was great to have my emails, and texts sent to the watch.  I could look at my watch, see if it was important or something that could wait till later.  Push the button and it would acknowledge the text or email, with the bonus of it looking like you were just checking the time. 

Another useful part of the watch was the ability to change the music on my phone.  Currently I have it setup for Apollo music player but might change it to Pandora.  I tested it in a few different scenarios.  At the gym while it was plugged into the radio, a lot easier to skip a song, or replay a song by the watch then having to walk back over to the radio in the middle of a rep.  

Now the next one might sound a bit crazy, but it was quicker and easier to forward song from the watch while the phone was plugged into the car radio via the aux cable.  This way my hands were on the steering wheel, and just had to move a little bit to push the button to forward or reverse the song.

I know there are a few other apps that integrate with the Pebble watch,  I think there is at least one for Fitness, which I will have to find tonight and get on my watch to check it out.  

With the Glance App there are other things available on the Pebble but so far I have not really found a use for them.  At CES they announced a Pebble App store so this will be interesting to see what other things you will be able to do with your watch.

Mercedes just announced that you can use your Pebble for access to the car, to bad I do not have one of them.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adventures with a Pebble Watch

I have had my pebble watch now for while probably going on 6-8 months.  But the problem was I was deployed.  Not really any use for it while deployed, did not have my cell phone on me, or even on for the most part of it.

Now that I am back I have charged it, and updated the firmware.  It has only been a little while with it on, so I have not been able to get a real feel for it just yet.  Still trying to figure out what I can use it for.  I have not worn a watch in years, and bought this from Kickstarter on a whim.  

I was able to download a few watch faces for the watch.  And I already knew that I could control music from the watch.  And that is about where my knowledge of Pebble is currently at.

I did find an app called Glance for my Galaxy S III (running CM 11), so I installed that on my phone, and pushed it to the watch. With Glance I am able to get weather feeds, stocks, UK train info (dont have any need for train info where I am from), my cell battery percentage, txt messages, emails, and I guess the same basic stuff you can get with the Pebble Watch.


Photo's of the watch are below.  The first one is a Kickstarter Watch Face, and the second one is from the Glance App.  The pictures are not the greatest, and I have still more to try out with the watch.  Currently stuck on loading something.




Sunday, December 8, 2013

San Diego Maker Faire

Today I brought my daughters to the San Diego Maker Fair at the Del Mar Fair Grounds.   This was the first Maker Fair in San Diego, so I was not sure what to expect as I have not made it to any of the others ones around the US.

To begin the weather was not the best, as it was cold and raining for most of the day, but the event was held in-doors so that was good.  With the lack of known advertisements for this event I was surprised by the amount of people that were there standing in the rain waiting for tickets.  I may be wrong in the lack of advertisement, but I did not hear about this on a radio station, and I don't really pay attention to the news (it could have been on there).  Sometimes I see event notices on twitter, but I found out about it through a friend on Facebook about a week ago. I loved the fact that I was able to purchase the tickets before had on eventbrite and then just show the QR code to get inside.

I think they planners also under estimated the amount of people that were going to show up at this event as it was very hard to move around and get hands on with a lot of the displays.   I was always trying to keep an eye on my daughters, as there was not much walking room between the exhibits. My daughters has a great time walking through and seeing the 3D printers, Laser printers, and even trying to make the derby cars.  I would have liked more stuff with the derby cars besides coloring a block of wood.  There was sand paper but in the end it is still just a block of wood with wheels.  I guess you really can pull out table saws, and the likes at a place like this though.   The quadraptors were also interesting to see but only 1 was actually being flown.  We even saw the air compressed rocket launcher, just like the one I built for my daughters a few years back, and they had folks trying to build rockets for it.

A lot of the booths had lines waiting for people to build what ever they were offering, and some ran early in to the day.  I did not really have a chance to hear any of the speakers talking, nor take part in any of the classes.   Overall I had a great time even though it might sound otherwise.   I just hope that with the great turn out this year they will have it in a bigger area, so they can have bigger exhibits, and more hands-on at the booths.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

San Diego Mini Maker Faire (DEC 7)

I must be late getting to the party as I just found out about this about a day ago.  I have been wanting to go to one of these for a long time, but there have never been any really close to San Diego that I knew about.   I guess that is about to change.

I already got my tickets for my daughters and I for December 7th, and have been telling them all about it.  At this point I don't know what to expect, except that it will probably be really cool, and hope that my daughters have a great time and see what people are making.

Maybe they will find something they would like to try and build or do.   Well this is just a short post to tell you all about the Maker Faire on December 7th over at Del Mar Fair grounds.

The website is San Diego Maker Faire
Also they are still looking for volunteers, so if you are interested hit up the website and help them out.

Hope to see you all there.
I will write a review of the day after the faire next week.