Nexus 6 Pre-Order Sells out Again – OnePlus One Ring a Bell?

The Nexus 6, complete with Lollipop Love, has sold out in mere moments again on this first Wednesday that Google promised new batches for pre-order. This is starting to feel a little like the sad OnePlus One rollout that is still, after months, lingering on. I suppose Motorola is in serious production at this point and since they have promised to roll the next Nexus device out to all of the U.S. carriers, this is to be expected – especially since the device is not supposed to hit the street until later this montn6_oneplusoneh.

Every Nexus fanboy out there is currently crying on all of the big Android fan sites, and it will just continue until the masses can pick one up. I got around the problem by writing a bit of code that checked the Google Plus order page for the 32 and 64 bit blue versions (who really wants a white one? yuck) for the existence of the words “We are out of inventory”. When the code found that those words were not found, I leaned over and refreshed the web page in my browser and hit buy.

Truth about that is, it really took a few tries. If you were lucky enough to get a Nexus 6 in your cart (many times it would just take you to a “your cart is empty” page) you would then need to quickly pay to make sure it stayed there. I managed to get it in the cart once and was typing to a friend that I had got one, and boom. Empty cart.

Do us all a favor Google/Motorola. How about a pre-order queue that just shows where you are in line to get it? Like currently we know through this order # that they are shipping by date “x”? Then just keep us updated? This way people will know whether to get in the queue or not. Don’t make this a N4/N5/OnePlus debacle.

 

Top Ten Tips For The DJI Phantom Vision 2 Plus

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Here is a list of the Top Ten things you should know as a new user of the DJI Phantom Vision 2 Plus:

1. Slow Blinking Green Lights!

Make very certain that the rear lights on your Phantom are flashing slow green before taking off – this means the drone has at least 6 GPS satellites detected and your drone will not fly away to Mexico or something looking for you.

2. Buy an Extra Battery

You get about 15 minutes of flight time with the DJI batteries. Get another one. Maybe two or three – you will want extra time when you are out in the field and finding a plug and charging the thing for an hour and a half is not fun.

3. Open Space – Lots of it!

As a new quad flyer, make sure you have open space and plenty of it. Open space does not include trees. They are evil. They eat Phantoms. Take my word for it, you want to find a place without them when you are getting the hang of flying.

4. Pilot Training Guide

The DJI Phantom Vision 2 Plus comes with a “Pilot Training Guide” that has basic to advanced maneuvers. Take advantage of them. Over your first 20-30 flights perform figure eights and all of the various other moves so you can really know how to get out of a pickle. Or away from an evil tree.

5. Make a Flight Checklist

Make a checklist. Cap and Gimble brace off. Switches in right position. Power on controller, then WiFi extender, then Phantom. Green Lights. App connected. Camera in right position. Record? Green Lights!

6. Turn Off the Video!!

I don’t know how many times I forget to turn off the video recording and then power off the Phantom after landing. This trashes your video. The award winning one you just recorded of baby zebras or something. IF you do forget. Power the quad back up and let it sit for about 30 seconds – it often will repair the file itself.

7. Fly Responsibly!

Big one here folks. Don’t fly over a crowd or the local interstate or anything. You don’t want to be responsible for 2.5 pounds of falling rock from 500 feet up doing damage to things or people.

8. Get Acquainted with Return to Home

Practice the return to home feature. If you fly this thing 1500 feet down range chances are you are going to need some help getting it back if you cant figure out which way it is pointed. Return to home will make you cry for joy as your $1300 toy returns to view on it’s own. If you get experienced and want to switch to Naza-M mode you can also use the Home Lock feature to “pull her back”.

9. Practice, Practice, Practice

Again, practice. And practice some more. The more flight hours you have, the better. The Phantom will surely be in a dangerous position or height or lose connection. Learning all of the ways that the drone will fly and methods at your disposal for getting it back is what you need more than anything.

10. Use the Camera Brace

Before you transport this thing, make sure you put the little plastic brace and lens cap on the camera. This protects the $500 mistake of breaking the gimbal and camera. You don’t want to write that check.

11. Wear Your Glasses

Bonus tip. If you wear glasses you want to wear your glasses.
At 500 feet on a bright day you might still hear it, but you probably will have trouble spotting it. Make sure you bring the specs.

 

XBox One – No Windows Media Center?

The latest incarnation of the XBox – the XBox One has been out for a while now. It is a extremely powerful box, filled with all kinds of tricks and a next generation Kinect. Voice controls and snapping live TV tricks abound.

But Microsoft shipped this unit without a key component to many TV enthusiasts including me. In the last two versions of XBox you could use the device as an extender to Windows Media Center running on a PC on your network. Sadly, Microsoft chose not to ship the One with this ability. Instead, they are looking at turning the console into a media device that has what I am guessing, less ties to external media providers – namely your cable or over the air providers.

Instead, Microsoft seems to be planning on using the XBox One to provide content directly to you, cutting out the middle man, and presumably picking up some of the subscription or even providing content that they create internally. By doing this they can use the black little box as a revenue generator beyond just games. Also, as more and more content is web based, maybe they just think acting as a set top box DVR is just a short term proposition at this point, and nobody will be using it anyway. Google often throws out great products that many many people use too, like Reader, but is still just a small percentage of their overall user base. I think this is what Microsoft is doing here. Sure they are alienating a passionate group here, and they are vocal, but they are small fish in a large pond.

This is a sad thing for the folks out there that use the device to consolidate their media experience into a sole device running in their living room or theater. I hope Microsoft changes their tune on this one. They could do so by releasing an app in their app store that connects to the media center, even charging for it, and many would jump on board with the One. Until that happens, I think many will continue to evaluate Android, Roku, Sling, and other options to access their Windows Media Center content.

Foscam fi8910w Disable Audio

I purchased a Foscam fi8910w for use in the nursery. All in all, I have been fairly happy with it. I added the in-laws to a “Visitor” group so they could keep an eye on the new little bugger and thought, hey wait a minute! There is no way to disable the audio!a

After a bunch of Googling for a way to do it, I still had no answer. Turns out, at least as of this post, there is no way to do it in software permanently. This is pretty disappointing. I think many people would use a feature where external viewers could have the webcam audio disabled.

There is one way to disable the audio, though it is a physical patch, and doing so would disable it for all users – which really isn’t a good option either. If you want to disable it completely, you can stick a 1/8 inch mono plug from RadioShack or Ebay into the audio in on the back side of the camera. Doing so will trick the unit into shutting off the on-board microphone. There is a quick video of it over here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfMW0ED0hQg

 

 

 

Windows Media Center: “An error was encountered while configuring your computer for use with this extender”

I recently had an issue during an install of a Windows Media Center Extender. The install may have failed do to the install being interrupted by a power outage and it seems like some files may have been corrupted on the MC PC.

I was receiving the error:

An error was encountered while configuring your computer for use with this extender

when I entered the 1234-5678 type code in the PC to add the extender. In the Event Viewer there was event 523 with the details “Media Center Extender Setup failed at step 120.” The error was -2147467259.

I found a post that cleared up the problem by following the steps below:

Go to C:\windows\system32\grouppolicy and delete the contents of the folder (including the directories).
You will need to untick Hide Protected Operating System Files and select Show Hidden Files and Folders before you browse.

I have windows 7 pro and an Xbox 360.

Hope this helps, and use the advice at your own risk, but it just worked for me. I copied the files elsewhere just in case before I deleted them, but didn’t need to do anything with them, as they were regenerated when I added the extender.

 

The Problem With Google’s Nexus Devices: No Accessories

I love the Google Nexus line of devices. They have proven to be solid performers, well designed, and always the first to receive updates to the OS when Google rolls out the latest “dessert”. I have owned each and every Nexus device, and look forward to the next but the strategy by Google has one fatal flaw that will keep the Nexus line from really competing with Apple: Accessories.

When Apple and Microsoft release their latest iOS or Surface device, they include some amazing accessories that make your purchase even more useful like keyboards, docks, cases, covers, and the like. Most people complain that they do it to mop up a bunch more money from the consumer, and while that is partly true, it delivers a pile of perceived value to them as well. A well designed and integrated keyboard for my new tablet? Wow, that makes it feel like I don’t need a laptop. That is value.

The latest round of Nexus devices, the 4, 7 and 10, are all amazing devices. So I should head on over to the Google Play store and pick me up some accessories, right? Wrong. 6 months after the 7’s release and a month following the release of the 4 and 10 there is exactly 1 accessory available in the Play store for these devices: a bumper case for the Nexus 4. And it has been out of stock for all but a few minutes of that month.

Google is missing the boat here. They need to create an ecosystem for their devices by adding a bevy of accessories that make their awesome Nexus devices even more amazing. They seem to think that competing on price and feature will win the war, but without accessories to back the device up, they will continue to attract the tech savvy, but not the masses. The Nexus 4 has the capability to charge wirelessly!!! Ummm, but not included in the box and a month after release, not even a leaked rumor about a date you might be able to pick one up. How about a keyboard for the Nexus 10? Nope. A official cover for the Nexus 7 that uses the “close to turn off” magnet? Not happening, unless you count the ebay Chinese junk. Come on Google, make more than just a Nuxus next time. Make a collection of Nexus branded and designed tech that changes the game.

Nexus 4 Review

OK, it’s been a few weeks since the new Google phone arrived, the Nexus 7 so it’s time for a bit of a review. I have had all of the Nexus devices over the years and my initial thought when i started using the 4 was that this phone is the Ferrari compared to the American muscle cars of past devices. Here is the Good and the Bad:

GOOD

  • Fit and finish – this phone just feels great in your hand, smooth and buttery (see BAD though) and the glass makes it feel solid and sexy.
  • GPS – this has to have the best GPS of any device out there. When choosing Navigate there is no delay ever – it always has your location ready, unlike past Nexus devices.
  • Google Now – I love this feature. Integration of my Google searches, Gmail and mapping plus all that is around me in the form of notification “cards” – what is there not to love? I’m all in.
  • Wireless charging and nice little bumper – these are in theory as they are back ordered, but I know both will be great.
  • Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro – this processor screams. Project Butter (Google’s effort to make Android “smoother”) shines on this device
  • Decent battery life – although I have had a few issues with run away Google serice processes, I am happy with this device’s battery consumption – it’s taken me through the day and I am a pretty heavy user.
  • The screen is beautiful – next to my other Nexus devices, this phone looks amazing – bright and crisp.
  • Google will update this phone over the next few years with Key Lime Pie and any other OS upgrade that it will handle – usually on the day it is released. No other line of phones is treated to the Google OS love like the Nuxus ones.

BAD:

  • No user replaceable battery – this is just about a deal breaker for me. I love to carry an extra battery or two when I am out exploring a city, but this device has no way to replace the battery. I will try a external charging device and decide where I will land on this one in the future.
  • Slickest Phone EVER – Wow. I never knew a phone could be this slick. I will break it for sure. I think the Gorilla Glass 2 enhancement was to create glass that you could ice skate on or something. Be prepared to put a case or bumper on this thing, not because you are afraid to scratch it, but because you are afraid you will throw it.
  • Camera – Not the best, not the worst. I wish a nexus phone had the best on the market, but it’s not the 4.
  • Wifi issue in 4.2.x – There seems to be a wifi connection issue in 4.2 and 4.2.1. When roaming around wifi connection points the Nexus 4 will drop it’s connection (the icons all turn grey) and you have to shut down the radios or go airplane mode and back to get them to re-connect. There are open issues in the Google forums for this, and some people seem to have better luck than others with their router hardware. This did not exist in 4.1.3, and is present in my other Nexii after the upgrade too, lets hope Google pushes another update soon to fix it.

All in all, this phone is a winner. If you can stand the few negatives, you will love this device – it is the best Nexus to date. I say pull the trigger, especially if you can pair it up with some cheap carrier plans (like the T-Mobile Value plans) that don’t feature carrier subsidy for phones. Currently at $299 and $349 for the 8/16GB versions.

Testing in Production

This is a topic that always draws some great responses when discussed where I work. Do you Test on your production systems?

I always come to the same conclusion on this one. Why wouldn’t you want to test in production? I know, I know. Your system is too “special” or “secure” or “regulated” or whatever to be able to test in production. So what are you going to do? Let your customers test it for you? Throw the code over the wall to the people that matter most and hope that it works for them? Take the chance that your customer will just understand when the house of cards comes crashing down in a burning heap of lame?

To those that say it just can’t be done, I say that maybe your system is just lacking testability – you haven’t built it right. To me a testable system is one that has a great handle on control and is inherently observable. If you can’t control and observe the software, you are dead out of the gate. Often, if you solve the control and observation issue, you will find a system that you can test in production – because you engineered it to be easy to do so in any environment.

So take a look at your systems and ask yourself if there are any measures you can take to affect the testability of your system in a way that would lead you to be able to test your system in production. Face it, no matter how you try, your QA systems will never be the same as your production systems. The data, traffic, configurations, scale, timing, etc. will just never match well enough that the tests you run in those environments will catch everything. Change control, make it observable and make sure your system works in production before your customer does it for you!