Saturday, November 29, 2014

Skip The Ipad For Taking Family Photos And Videos This Holiday Season

So it finally happened.   I received pictures from a family Thanksgiving Dinner taken from an iPad that are so disgusting to look at I would have rather for them to not have been shared with me. I normally would be the person taking the photos and distributing digitally or on the rare occasion the physical print.

I'm going to say it again: Never take family photos and videos from a tablet! That includes all iPads, iPad Mini, Galaxy Tabs and all Android variants.

Here is why:

The image sensor that converts red, blue and green light into an electronic signal on most tablets is usually very simple and bland without going into details on signal processing and color separation.  It takes that signal and plots it into a 1024 pixel width x 768 pixel height image.  That equates to 786,432 pixel or .8 Megapixels.  This is not what you want.  .8 Megapixels is of the quality that digital cameras were producing 20 years ago. Regular 35mm film produces somewhere between 4 and 16 Megapixels depending on the quality of film used.

So you've already gone down in the pixel count substantially and you now have to factor in noise and digital compression.  What you see on the large display screen is not what is saved on your device.  What is happening while the image is being displayed on the screen is the display is receiving raw video and images from the image sensor in near real time.  When the shutter button is pressed the digital signal processing and occurs in the sensor a compression algorithm is applied to reduce the size of the file stored to the device.  Usually the compression algorithm applied is high lossy compression and the detail captured is lost to make the file size portable.  If look at the picture below you can see that there is a loss of detail on the water bottles, cake, salad and there is a great deal of noise in the picture as well.  

The main problem with this photo is the iPad sensor is that it's unable to adjust the exposure  due to the light in the background and all detail is lost on the faces in the photos.  Most modern point and shoot cameras can detect smiles or faces and can handle all the exposure and saturation settings.

I strongly recommend capturing moments using a modern point and shoot camera with 16+ Megapixels.  Also, most of these cameras can also take video and images simultaneously.  I do not recommend high end smartphones even though it is possible to take high quality photos, it requires a great amount of skill with framing, light composition, tweaking of exposure settings and minimizing movement of the smartphone operator to get the best shot. This is a bit to much work for the average user and a point and shoot can take out most of the complexity of shot composition for the average user.

Now that I've said all of that; you can share those digital moments using your iPad with a Camera Connection Kit.  This will allow you to share images from either the memory card from the point and shoot camera or the usb cable included with your camera which attached to the camera if you don't know how to take the memory card out.

I feel that most low technically skilled users utilize iPad for taking videos and photos because it takes the complexity of navigating the file system of operating systems and attaching files and photos using an email client.

It's 2014 and I have family members who are still unable 1) navigate a file system to save and retrieve  an image  and 2) use a local mail client and/or webmail in windows to and navigate the the file system to attach and image.    These are basic skills that should have been learned by users decades ago but this simplicity and ease of use takes fine grained control away from the user and are left with less than desired photos.  You need to figure out which connector you have:  30 Pin or Lightning and buy the appropriate connection kit.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Plex Home. The end of an era.

I know I'm going to receive a lot of hate mail about this. But I too a screenshot before my comment gets removed on Google+.  Bait and switch requiring a Plex plass subscription is not a good look  Plex. 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

48 Hours With The Microsoft Band

Day 1

I ordered the morning on Oct 30th but there was no anticipated ship date thoughout the day.  After lunch on the east coast I noticed bloggers were posting photos online of lines at Microsoft Stores across the country and I read that they were being sold in stores. So I called the local Microsoft store when I got home from work and they had the small band in stock.  I’ll be there in 30 minutes, will there be enough stock? His answer was yes, c’mon down.

Upon arrival all the small bands were *not* in stock and I tried on the medium band and it was acceptable on the tightest clasp setting.  It was tight enough on wrist but I could look down into the band and see gaps.

I purchased the medium band, downloaded the Microsoft Health App while the transaction and bag packing occurred and rushed back to my car to set the band up.

Setup was fairly simple.  I first plugged the included usb charger into my usb port in my car and to the pogo pins (mag safe-ish) on the underside of the watch and it turned on.  There was typical bluetooth pairing, pins, etc.  45 seconds later it was done.  I paired the band with the app and started customizing and connecting to the connected apps.

I left the mall parking lot and drove home.  The haptic vibration motor is *very* strong.  I actually was a little started with notifications.  Calendar notifications definitely get your attention.  I took in a movie late in the evening and notifications discretely came in and were not obnoxious nor disturbing in a dark theater.  I discretely looked down at my wrist at the notification and either manually pressed the sleep button or just turned my wrist over.

I worked out after the movie and the data captured was fairly accurate.  I was shocked that was was gathering estimate reps completed!.  My ending heart rate was not able to be calculated.  I don’t know if that was because I was sweaty or the band wasn’t tight enough with loss of water weight and/or sweat.

I took the band off to shower.  I watched the news and it was time for to sleep.  I hit the sleep icon and action button and I was in light sleep within 6.5 minutes.  What was disturbing was that I “woke up”  6 times throughout the night and my sleep was only 91% efficient.  But I burn a whopping 487 calories while I sleep.

Day 2

Early work day.  I didn’t miss a meeting because I was promptly alerted by the calendar for a pending meeting.  I didn’t need to look at my phone for notifications.  I could discretely see what was going on with a slight glance of my wrist.  Nothing more to report here.

I completed a quick workout before bed and it was very accurate.  Ending heart rate was captured this time.  However, the data synced to run keeper only contained duration and calories burned.  Major bummer there. Shower then sleep.  95% efficient sleep with only 3 wake ups.

Day 3
I completed sleep tracking took the band off to shower and I forgot it on the night stand.
I finished running errands and put the band on upon returning home and decided to go to Starbucks and test out the Starbucks Card QR Code Functionality and it worked.  I turned the band around with the display facing out and scanned it up to the reader and boom it worked.  Major win.  I can now be wallet-less and now phone-less to get my Starbucks Fix!

With enough caffeine I tackled a 2.5 hours and 2.30 miles in Ikea.  What’s sad and disturbing is the capturing of only 320 steps in an hour.  That accounted for me waiting in line and walking to my car.

Currently I’d give the Microsoft Band a B+ or a 86/100.  It got a lot right and some minor things wrong.  By now if it was a dud I would have taken the thing off and banished it to the junk drawer but I’m still wearing it and hoping for great things from the device.  The time before the Apple Watch comes out it critical for Microsoft.  If they can add some polish to the UI and sync apps.  It could be a great Apple Watch contender.

Device came almost fully charged
48 Hour Battery Life
Strong Haptic Vibration Motor
Hypoallergenic Silicone/Rubber Coating
Great BT LE 4.0 Power Management

Bulk - (I’m wearing the medium band on the tightest clasp setting)
Not Water Proof
Health App
My Zagg Screen Protector that was supposed to be included was missing in my bag
Physical Action Button Required for Certain Activities - Touch UI should accomplish most of this
Wonky UI
No Direct iOS Healthkit Integration
Health iOS App takes a battery hit with the continuous background syncing
UV Detector Didn't Seem to pickup any UV Radiation :-(

Current Connected Apps/iOS HealthKit Integration Status

HealthKit Integration is done by syncing workout duration currently and it might trickle into Healtkit.  I have Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal connectivity setup and not all the activity data is being synced.  I can manually enter the active calories burned but it’s a pain.   You cannot currently use the Microsoft Band as an external heart rate monitor using MyFitnessPal.

My recommendation for Microsoft would just be to continue to use the MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper partnerships but start logging the data directly to Healtkit.  It’s easy to gather the data and let the partners consume what they want but all the valuable fitness metrics are being lost.  The following values can go right into HealthKit and the apps can pickup the data for their logging,dairy etc from the devices as well:

*Active Calories
*Cycling Distance
*Electrodermal Activity
*Heart Rate
*Number of Times Fallen
*Resting Calories
*Sleep Analysis   - A Major Plus for Me
*Walking + Running Distance

I do have a Small Band Coming in the mail sometime next week.  So the fit issues might be resolved come Wednesday.

Supposedly HealthKit Integration is coming but it should have been there on day one.

Some Warnings and Frank Criticism for Microsoft.  Please milk Cortana for all that she’s worth but please do not neuter the Voice Features for iOS and Android.  Simply allow the microphone to be used a handsfree device and let it trigger Siri and Google Now respectively. If you disable this in favor or Cortana notes, etc; people will not buy your device.  Right now there is integration with iOS and Android and that is perfect.  Just sync the data and display the notifications and go! Work with Apple and Google to figure out how to properly integrate with their Health Offerings with the data that you collect and you don’t have to frustrate customers working with third party app makers and their limited APIs.  Figure out how to get the heart rate data sent to MyFitnessPal or RunKeeper

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Cell Phone History

I lost my original post from my original blog so I'm taking another stab at it.

Here's The List (Updated for 2020)

1997 - Nokia 2160i  - Alltel
2000 - Nokia 5165 - ATT
2000 - Ericsson T18s (2x) - ATT
2000 - Ericsson R280 (2x) - ATT
2001 - Erisson R300z - ATT
2002 - Sony Ericsson T206 - Metropcs
2003 - Sony Ericsson T608 (2x)  - Sprint
2004 - Sony Ericsson T68i - Tmobile
2005 - Motorola SLVR - Tmobile
2005 - Sony Ericsson W600i - Cingular
2008 - HTC G1 - Tmobile
2009 - HTC Mytouch 3G - Tmobile
2009 - Blackberry Bold 9700 - Tmobile
2010 - Apple iPhone 4 - ATT/Tmobile
2011- Samsung - SCH-LC11 4G LTE Hotspot - Verizon
2012 - Palm Pre3 - ATT/Tmobile
2012 - Samsung Galaxy Nexus - Tmobile
2012 - LG Nexus 4 - Tmobile/ATT/Tmobile
2013 - LG Nexus 5 - Tmobile/ATT/Tmobile/ATT/Tmobile
2013 - Iphone 5s - Tmobile/ATT/Tmobile/ATT
2014 - Iphone 6 (2x) - Att/Google Fi
2015 - Nexus 5X -  Project Fi
2016 - Google Pixel (3x) -  Project Fi
2018 - Google Pixel 3 - Google Fi
2020 - iPhone SE (2020) - Att/Google Fi
2020 - Google Pixel 5 - Google Fi

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Breakup Letter To Tmobile

I have been attempting to use Tmobile here in the metro Atlanta area for the past 7 years.

After countless tickets and waiting for coherent responses other than canned responses back from engineers that I decided enough was enough.  It is extremely necessary for lifeline, personal and work use that I can place and receive calls and have somewhat reliable data.

I had five main issues that were not being handled: 1700 MHz signal attenuation in overcast conditions, missed calls,audio codec issues, no true nationwide 3G nor 4G and excessive battery usage using hspa/LTE.

1700 mhz signal attenuation issues

I reported problems with 1700 MHz signal attenuation when it rained within the first week of the G1 availability back in 2008. I think it rained the night that I got the G1 and I knew something was not quite right with the download speeds.  I knew from early reports that people were getting near 7.2 Mbps downloads from the phone.  My speeds were just barely above edge speeds.  I don't think there was a speedtest app back then but there were a couple of websites that you could download text and image files to test your download and upload speeds.  This continued the next day because it rained all day and a placed a phone call to support about it.  (During my morning commute I did learn that an artifact of the 1996 summer olympics that EDGE was still alive underground on MARTA.)   I think they reprovisioned my phone but speeds were still slow. This was the 3rd 3G phone that I'd owned each on different carriers so I knew what was should have been expected.  The others were on CDMA and UMTS 850 on Sprint and ATT.  Speeds went up when it stopped raining the next day.  Speeds were spotty from November to March when it was overcast raining and March 1st 2009 when there was a snow storm I had my first taste of what data was like during snow and it was inexistant.  I suffered through it for another year and it did not get any better.  I switched phones to a Blackberry Bold 9700 in March of 2010 because the phone had UMA support where I could use wifi for voice calls.  Three months into ownership the problems cropped up again and I purchased a used Mytouch 3G and things were a little better.  By that time I think that Tmobile started to heavily proxy and cache network images, html files and some apks to mask some of these issues.

I eventually gave up on Tmobile and switched to ATT and got an iPhone 4 in July of 2010. The only problems I had with ATT were dropped calls and price.

Missed Calls and Unable To Place Calls

In May of 2010 many of my friends, family, coworkers brought it to my attention that my calls were going straight to voicemail.  The only remnant was a voicemail with people telling me I was rude by sending them directly to voicemail.  I didn't really report this because I was extremely fed up with Tmobile because I was tricked into upgrading my grandfathered unlimited plan to a Nexus One and then was told that I was no longer eligible. I switched back to Tmobile's prepaid offering in October of 2012 when my ATT contract was over and I was then month-to-month.  I ported my main number to use Google Voice a month later and I noticed an interesting finding; a mass amount of missed calls.  Google Voice has a configuration to send you an email when you intentionally or unintentionally miss a call. Some days there were between 3 - 5 missed calls. Problematic? Yes!  I was able to get around this with simultaneously running a Android SIP Client where I could take the call over internet or over the voice network. Most of the time both the phone app and the SIP Client rang at almost the same time.  When the SIP client rang only I knew there was a problem.  I'm a little different that most users and I wouldn't expect most to run configurations like this. I ran this until September of 2013 when I switched back to an unlocked iPhone 5s more details about that in the Excessive Battery Usage. No problems again on ATT. I hated the cost on ATT and again switched back to Tmobile in March of 2014.  This time I got two lines one Nexus 5 and one iphone 5s.  Within days the missed calls started to happen again.  I called support and asked updates with each being closed out.  On March 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm exactly I missed calls on not one but two phones but also facetime audio and factime video calls.  This lasted for about 10 minutes in an open parking lot with me viewing a tmobile owned tower within 300 feet.  I immediately placed a call to support when I could make calls after that 10 minute period I called support and they could not explain why I could not place nor receive calls.  I knew that it was both voice and data related because two of the 4 attempts were all over data.  I asked that the ticket get escalated to their tier 2 engineers and requested a callback. In 52 hours the ticket was closed out without a callback.

On April 19, 2014 between 11:15 am and 11:45 am and April 20th 2014 between 12:30 pm - 12:45 pm I was unable to make phone calls for a 4 - 6 mile stretch on both phones.  I put both phones in airplane mode and power cycled to no available.  On April 20th.  I stopped at a gas station and used the free wifi to make a call over Google Hangouts to  Tmobile customer support.  Around 7 minutes into the call both phones miraculously received a signal and I was on my way.  Again I requested a call back and I found out 4 days later the tickets were closed with a known issue that would not be fixed.  I made a decision then that I was going to switch back to ATT because I simply could not use this carrier anymore with the level of support that I was receiving.  Being able to place and receive calls is paramount to data speeds when it's raining. 

Audio Codec Issues

On February 27, 2014 at 8:30 am, I placed an outgoing call to a conference bridge at work and noticed the playback from the service was at a 75% of it's normal speed.  I thought this was a fluke and had an incoming call and their playback was again 75% of it's normal speed.   I immediately called Tmobile customer support and got a ticket opened.  They were able to hear quality issues on their end with me calling in and called me on the second phone and was unable to reach me.  They opened a ticket and the problem was on their end because a cell was down!  I requested a callback and there was none.  The issue was resolved in 2 hours.  How are you unable to detect cells that are down in your network monitoring systems?  Either you don't care, you're telling me a lie to get me off the phone  or your NOC or reliability departments are asleep behind the wheel.

Over the next month I began to have a problem with google voice was unable to detect the regular old DTMF tones from both phones while a call was in progress.  I haven't seen that problem happen since the early days in VOIP when placing calls to a regular POTS line.  I suspect that Tmobile is playing with audio codecs for HD Voice and I just happened to be the lucky one to find this out that it's not working with IVRs.

No Nationwide 3G/4G
Outside of large metropolitan areas the rest of the country is on Edge of GSM or there is no service at all.  Verizon and ATT has had nationwide 3G for a few years and Verizon has had nationwide LTE since 2013. No need to harp on this.  Supposedly this will be over at the end of 2014 but I won't be there to monitor

Excessive Battery Drain

This dates back to the G1 back in 2008.  With 3G on I could expect to have to charge my phone during lunch to make it to make it home without a dead phone. I was able to deplete my phone's battery in 15 minutes with 3G, Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS enabled.  I could chalk that up to android 2.0.  To get around this and I don't know how I was able to disable automatic cellular registration and register on ATT and I could get battery life in the 30 hour range.  Almost 10 times more than I got on the 1700 mhz band.

I went to Europe in July of 2009 and July of 2010. First trip I was able to pop my tmobile uk sim in the G1 and I was immediately able to access the network there and the apn settings were automatically applied.  I wasn't able to get a whole day of usage without swapping the battery. I would say that I would get about 7 hours of usage.  I believe the Tmobile UK was using the 800 Mhz on GSM and 2100 Mhz on 3G.

A year later I had the tmobile g1, mytouch 3g and bold 9700.  The bold 9700 lasted all day but was locked and I had the Mytouch 3g that was rooted that I used for other carriers.  I got 8 - 9 hours with 3G enabled with browsing and Foursquare and Gowalla checking using GPS.

Jumping ahead to 2012. I got a Galaxy Nexus and used it on ATT from July to October.  My old friend from 2010 with excessive battery usage cropped up again. I bought an extended battery ebay and that solved that issue for a year when I got the Nexus 4.  Problem again.  Internal battery and battery drain issues were still not resolved.  I rooted the Nexus 4 to get LTE and re-enable toggling 2g/3g and airplane mode from tasker. The phone was hot all the time and I would lose nearly 30% battery in about 36% on my commute to work on the train due to constant signal hopping.  I purchased battery backup for the device to give  me a quick top-up when I wasn't near a computer.  This continued until September of 2013 when I got the iPhone 5s.  I used the iphone 5s for about 40 minutes with no wifi and the device was almost depleted on my trip home from UPS. By noon the next day the iphone was nearly depleted at noon and users were reporting on Apple and Tmobile forums that they were having this problem with less than 24 hours of ownership.  I made a decision to try att to see if the problem was network related and it was.  I left home at around 5:30 am the next day and was at 70% at 1 pm with heavy usage. I didn't charge the phone again until around midnight nearly 19 hours later.

I got a nano to micro sim converter for the tmobile sim as well as an att mvno sim from h20 wireless for a signal test.

So I had 3 Sim Cards.  2 ATT and 1 Tmobile.

Using the att sim in my iPhone 5s I was getting some 12 - 15 hours before needed to charge the phone.
Tmobile Sim in the Nexus 4.  6 hours before needing to charge.
H20 Wireless/ATT MVNO Sim.  14 - 16 Hours in the Nexus 4 before needing to charge.  48 Hours in a  Palm Pre 3 without needing to charge.  Previously a Tmobile Sim in the Palm Pre 3 received about 8 Hours without needing to charge.  NOTE:  The Palm Pre 3 was uses the 850, 1900 and 2100 Mhz frequencies and not 1700 Mhz.

In summary not being able to make or receive calls at specific times of the day is potentially deadly.  Not being able to dial 911 because your towers are down is not something that I want to risk.  Tmoble's customer support and network engineers have poor incident management skills.  I've never been treated so poorly by a company before.  I vote with my wallet and I voted to not continue to support a company that is not willing to fix issues with their towers in an area because it's not profitable.   I'll soon file a complaint with the FCC because not being able to place calls in emergency situations is an event that they fine you over.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Amazon Fire TV Review

I've owned it for a week today so I thought I'd make a small review.  I'll post some pictures later.

Fastest and most legal way to watch TV,Movies online
Quad Core Processor and Dedicated GPU make animations and gameplay buttery smooth
Great Starter App and Game Selection
Debug Mode is Still There!!
Prime Instant Video Collection is growing everyday
Casual and midcore games selection are very engaging

Can’t Shop from Amazon (yet)
Lack of Third Party Voice Search
Limited App Selection
Apps Purchased online don’t always make it to the FireTV
Even Less Limited Game Selection
No remote control apps on Android and iOS
Keyboard Layout should be QWERTY and not 1-9 A-Z it makes it really hard to type
Keyboard Carousel should resume at the last letter and not start over at A


Support True Miracast Receiver Abilities from all Miracast Capable Senders

Tweak Mojito ever to slightly. The app installer uses entirely too many resources in the background and interrupt foreground.

Work on a DLNA App

Install to device from the web

HDMI-CEC. Pressing home on the remote/controller. Power on the tv if it’s off

What’s on tv based on your zip code to spur tv purchases

Questions: Why are you guys using Akamai for CDN services?

I would recommend this product to everyone. The interface and layout are simple enough that my mom could use it.