I got caught up on two reviews over the past two days. The Jabra Evolve 75 headset and the Chromecast Ultra screen adapter. I have a few more to catch up on, but that will take some more time. I also have several pending movie reviews, but those aren’t technology related so let’s move on! One of the things I have been using a lot lately is the various add-ons for my iPhone. The FLIR add-on is interesting. It allows you, as you can see in the cover picture to take an image of actual heat. My goatee is cooler than the rest of my face. I find that technology incredibly fun to play with. This is critical when you consider heating and cooling your house. It is a really useful tool.
Four years ago I took a winter picture of the windows in our house. In particular, the front of the house felt cold. I tool IR pictures of the windows, and in the middle of the winter, they were blue. Blue is cold. The air around the windows was cold. The dogs loved it in the winter; their perch was cold.
But regarding heating and cooling our house, it cost us more than 100 dollars per month to have leaky windows. We had the windows replaced, and images now aren’t blue in the winter. Plus, when I have to pay the bills at the beginning of the month, I am no longer blue, either! There is any number of other things you can do to keep your house warm in the winter, but new windows make a huge impact!
There are many other connections you can make with your phone. Cellular, wifi, Bluetooth and direct are the four connection types. Cellular is most likely the most portable in that there are places in the world where there is no wifi but your cell phone will still work. Wifi is the next most portable in that you can be around 400 feet or so (depends on the number of walls and type of walls) from the broadcast site. The next protocol is Bluetooth, and now you have about 30 feet between you and the transmitter. Finally, direct connected devices have 0 range beyond the device but can be used quickly. The reality of connectivity is continuing to expand. Now, I need to figure out what I am going to need (AI) before I leave so I have the right things in my bag!
I got a Chromecast when they were first available. I think that was more than five years ago now. I recently upgraded to the new Chromecast Ultra. I added it to the TV in my office so that I could quickly share slides and other content in a protected mode, without having to leave my office. Plus, with a wireless keyboard and mouse, I can sit and watch the TV in the corner of my office, and be working on diagrams and documents. It lets me have multiple monitors focused on content. The Chromecast is simple; you can project anything from Chrome (google docs, etc.) or your drive to the Chromecast. The Chromecast then converts the signal and puts it on the TV.
It is part of the Screen as a Service concept I’ve posted many times. It is also a quick and easy way to quickly view things on display rather than a monitor. Monitors are built to see and share computer information. TV, projectors are not always optimized for your computer display. I like to test and verify that my content would be properly displayed on the “projection.” Functionally it is important to see how your slides look on the display screen. The other thing I can do is watch video training materials in my office on the larger screen. I’ve looked at a lot of the systems for screen sharing. Samsung has built-in screen sharing you can use on their TV’s as well.
(Keecker has an integrated Chromecast support so you can roll your screen to any room).
Setup of the new Ultra was incredibly easy. Once I unboxed it, I simply plugged the HDMI into the back of the TV. Then plugged the power supply in and connected the two. The onscreen setup involved telling you to download Google Home (I already had Google home installed, so that was easy). It took me about 4 minutes to set up the new Chromecast and to start sharing my screen. I’ve used it with my iPhone, my iPad, and my Android Tablet. There is something nice about being able to see your phone on a larger screen. IT certainly makes it easier to play Bejeweled! Chromecast is a nice addition to your TV if you ever need to share to a bigger screen. I give Chromecast Ultra a 9 out of 10!
Tech Wiz Review
There are four things I enjoy having and using. They go with me in my bag and are things I depend on. For example the Jabra Evolve 75 wireless headsets. I use my cell phone all the time. First, I do have in the earbuds. The PaMu and Pilot earbuds are with me most of the time. But when I am in a place where I need to hear, talk and communicate with people and it is loud around me, it is the Logitech headset. Without further adieu, my review of the Evolve 75 headsets.
- You can easily connect the headsets via Bluetooth to your computer, phone or tablet.
- They are over the ear headsets.
- The microphone flips on the front of you or can flip up onto the earpiece if you are listening and not talking.
- It ships with a hard case, easy to store and carry.
- It has an audio in jack so you can use them with virtually any audio out device.
- The headset is noise canceling.
First off, it works with or without the Jabra software installed. It works with Android phones, iPhones, iPads, PCs and Macs. I’ve used it with all of them. For music, they are noise canceling. For voice conversations, both the earphones and the microphone are noise canceling. That means you can be in environments that are louder and still be able to hear and be heard without adding a metric crap ton of extraneous noise to the call.
They are adjustable for any head size! They fit nicely under a hoodie in the winter (I wear one while walking). The mute button is on the headset and easy to use. So is the volume up or down button, located on the earpiece.
I’ve had a chance to play with the new Segway Loomo product for a few days now. First, the robot part of the PT system is fun. Like Jibo the voice is something you have to get used to hearing. You also, have to have some level of balance (I do not). I wish I had enough balance that it is easier for me to ride Loomo, I am working on that. Personal transportation including scooters and roller blades are interesting. Segway is releasing a Gyroscope focused set of inline skates that are interesting. Loomo is interesting; I know my kids enjoy riding it around. They have already taken it outdoors. We are still discussing names for Loomo, but for now, we are enjoying!
Keecker updated their OS/application suite as well. They now support two-way video conferencing as well as Google Chromecast. Google Chromecast was integrated with the original shipping product. I just hadn’t used it until recently. The new feature is two-way video conferencing. I haven’t tried it yet but it is on the list (once Serenity moves out, she is terrified of Keecker.). I’ve tried Netflix and Hulu on Keecker, and it is really useful. The future of home pods will be the flexibility of the pod itself. Keecker has a lot of potentials, and the team continues to deliver on the potential with their software releases. Robots are as much the software that runs them, as they are the overall hardware they have! One of the things I want to try with Keecker is using Amazon pictures. I think it would be fun to have Keecker wander around our living room during parties, playing music and showing family pictures and family videos. I have most of them sitting in the Amazon picture drive, so that would be a fun thing. I don’t know if I can yet, haven’t tried. It is on the after serenity moves out the list.
I updated my remaining Macintosh to the new MacOS. I haven’t spent any time using it yet, and will over the next few days. The reality for me is that it is simple and easy to do the upgrades. Once upon a time upgrades were more wipe, replace and start over. Now, they are in place and fairly effective. I find I no longer fear upgrades. I have to say, I always do a full backup before launching the upgrade. That part I learned years ago when things didn’t always work!
Tech Wiz cool Tech update!
After 15 years of not having a Macintosh in the house, I ended up getting a MacBook Pro in 2011. It was the end of that year, and having a Mac was something well, I guess I wanted. At work, I was still using a PC but wanted to have a computer for home that was different, and I missed using MacOS. We decided to get a MacBook Pro. First, the quality of the Macintosh computers has always been high. But the MacBook pro we got back in 2011, is simply an amazing computer. We are getting rid of that computer because after seven years it isn’t used anymore. We have another MacBook that I use frequently, but that particular one has been sitting in my wife’s office for the past six months, and we haven’t used it. Time to start getting rid of things we aren’t using!
Not moving away from Apple, just picking one of the Apple’s in our orchard and getting rid of it. One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch (girl) as the Osmond’s used to say. The MacBook Pro is a great system overall. We ended up getting a second MacBook in 2014. With that one, you don’t have the same screen size (15 vs. 17), but with an SSD drive, it is so much faster. We won’t be buying a new Mac; we are downsizing the number of computers in the house. We still have far too many computers. But, the first Mac back in the house served us well. I was a Mac user from 1984 all the way to 1996. I ran an Apple Computer Users group for some years (1991 to 1996).
It does make me sometimes think about the technology path I’ve taken. The move to touch and touch interaction means I have a PC in my house. I like being able to draw on the screen when I need to. It makes a difference in the job I have because I am frequently during online or live meetings. Being able to quickly share a drawing makes a difference. Look I am not an artist, but I do like to convey it’s when I am working with people online. I do often interact with people online, and I often use my computer to create pen drawings of what I am talking about.
My job has evolved over the years. I’ve always been involved in the world of software architecture, but now I tend more towards the big picture strategic view of the same reality. Not dealing with other technologies, rather now, I take a more holistic view of what is going on. I’ve been more on the strategic side the last ten years, but more so now than ever before. The strategy is interesting in that it doesn’t have a guaranteed outcome. When I design and deploy a server or cloud solution for a customer I know what is going to be built. When I begin looking at the art of the possible, things tend to become a lot murkier.
It is one of the reasons that I started out doing things on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Crowdfunding was a way to stay engaged and see what was coming before it was in the market. I don’t back projects on Indiegogo as often now; they have an extremely high unvetted project rate (more than 30% of all the projects I’ve backed either disappeared (no communication) or sent we tried, but we couldn’t do what we said we could do email). I’ve had three projects fail on Kickstarter just to be clear that is a huge difference (I’ve backed 22 more projects on Kickstarter). Overall the Kickstarter failure rate has gone from 7% a year ago to less than 4% now. Crowdfunding is a risk, but the responsibility of the site/engine is to make sure the backers are protected.
Tomorrow is another day!
Solar, water and wind power systems are always of interest. I spent a lot of time working on the Transactive Energy team, in particular, working on the specific parts of TE-related to personal use. There are massive wind and solar farms in the US today, and the number of those farms are growing. But the interesting reality of TE is the individual homeowner or neighborhood working together. Solar arrays on your roof, or wind arrays either in your yard or roof are interesting components of Transactive Energy. The interesting problem is more legal at this point than anything. Today power companies in some places do have to pay for excess power produced. It is often that the laws of the land don’t keep up with technology. TE is one of those. The other is the reality of my image and pictures. In the days of film cameras, there were many fewer pictures taken of any one person. Now with cell phones, there are many more images and videos of any one event. The police can take images from multiple cameras to recreate a scene. Lots of pictures, who owns my image?
Portable solar power systems are interesting. I have looked at adding a solar system to our boat. We have one for the house. Why wouldn’t you have one for a boat? The batteries need a way to recharge. The sun is often shining and well it is free relatively. It isn’t free to install solar panels, and in particular, our boat doesn’t have an easy place to put the panels, but it is an interesting option to consider. Solar cars are common now. Wind-powered vehicles are often called Sailboats! They are everywhere.
As the laws evolve to accept and move towards the new reality that technology builds on there are a number of things that may change. Voting, which (November 6, 2018, is a US election day) could be automated with a secure system that would allow you to vote on issues, in real time. Imagine being able to tell your congressman or representative exactly what you want them to do. Not voting because they were influenced by money or other things. Voting because that is what the people want and need!
The law will catch up to technology someday.