26 December 2014

Chromecast device review update

Seasons Greetings!

Merry Christmas, even though it is the day after. Having spent time in Upstate NY as a kid I enjoyed celebrating Christmas with snow on the ground. Sadly living in N. VA we don't usually get much if any snow at this time of year.  I miss snow and when we do get it I usually will go out and spend 4 - 5 hrs snow-blowing the sidewalks in our townhouse community.

Now to the point of this update.  I bought a Google ChromeCast device quite a while back.  I posted a review about it shortly after testing it out and I was sadly disappointed that there weren't that many apps available for it yet.  I was also disappointed that you could only display a few apps to the screen from whatever phone or tablet you were using.  At the time I had my Wife's Samsung Tab 2 10.1" tablet and my Motorola Droid X2 (mobile computing device that thinks it's a phone).

Anyway, I had to replace my 4.5 yr old X2 with a new Samsung Galaxy S5.  The phone dialer was taking 3 minutes to dial someone. The review for my new phone will be the subject for a separated blog post.

So I started tinkering the new S5 and some of it's more advanced features.  I decided to see what it could do with my ChromeCast device.   There is a Samsung patch for the ChromeCast app so I installed it on my S5.  Google updated ChromeCast to now allow full device mirroring to the ChromeCast device.  Awesome, FINALLY!

This works great from my S5.  My Wife's family recently purchased 3 Galaxy S5 mobile computing devices.  With the ChromeCast device I can now go over and demonstrate to them the different features available on the S5 while my screen is mirrored on the TV screen.   WooHoo!  Gotta love technology sometimes.

You can get all the latest news and updates related to ChromeCast at this URL http://googlechromecast.com/

Happy New Year!  Stay safe in the cyber world too!

30 August 2014

Internet of Farming: Arduino-based, backyard aquaponics

iframe width 480 height 270 src //www.youtube.com/embed/X2wWTadsBDA frameborder 0 allowfullscreen> /iframe>

14 March 2014

Google Chromecast device

It's been quite some time since I last posted anything here.  I need to start writing more but there never seems to be enough time for the fun stuff including getting in a nap.  There are way too many distractions it seems like.

By trade I've a hardware person, well, for the last 34 yrs..  I must admit however that electronics or  computer hardware has become hard to follow in the last 10 to 15 years.  The reason is because hardware it changing so rapidly anymore and I believe we can throw out Moore's Law.  I don't usually look at hardware that closely anymore unless I need to replace a computer at work or home.  At work servers are being virtualized so there's really no need for me to keep up with that much lately.  I'm not going to go into how computer virtualization works here though for those that aren't familiar with technology.

Anyway, this is going to be a review about the Chromecast device I received as a Christmas gift.  Yes, I'm a gadget person however not as bad as some people.  I don't run out buy a gadget immediately after it hits the "shelf".   I prefer to wait until a product has matured a little, say when it's reach the 3rd or 4th generation.  I also try to determine whether a product is going to be worth the investment of my time as well as my money.  Is it going to be useful too or is it going to "collect dust" after I'm finished tinkering with it and I move to something else or get so distracted that I don't tinker with it for a year.

You can buy the device from Google directly or a 3rd pary such as Radio Shack, Best Buy or MicroCenter now, for $35.  It's slightly bigger than a thumbdrive, comes with a power adaptor, USB Cable used to power the device.

At the time that I recieved it there was limited app support. What was more curious Chromecast app wasn't support on my Wife's Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.  And yet it was on my Droid X2, yes I still have my X2.  Yeah, I've had it a while now.  Not sure what I want for an upgrade though.

Anyway, if you're thinking about getting one of these devices be forewarned not that many apps support it.  Not only that most of the newer TV's have all the app support they need.  There are other devices that would fit the bill better than Chromecast.   Like maybe the Apple TV device, Roku or Slingbox, etc....... I'm sure I could spend all night point out other devices with similar capability.


03 May 2013

Long over due

It would appear that I'm long overdue to post something here. I'll have figure out what topic to pick first.

19 December 2011

17 November 2011

Pros & Cons of the Droid X2

In the past I've used a Blackberry for work.  Some of the features I kind of liked.  For instance I could set up a schedule for the phone to turn itself off and on again.  I typically never got called in the middle of the night so it really didn't matter if the phone was off.  If someone really wanted me they had my home phone number.

The built-in speakerphone isn't all that loud in a noisy car when it cradle on the dash.  I was disappointed that the volume doesn't get all that loud.  Some of the Android apps don't appear to work with a Bluetooth speakerphone.  I don't have a Bluetooth earpiece but I doubt it would matter.

The stock battery while is ok if you the type that turns it off during working hrs like me.  It has a good standby time on it but if you start using apps that drain the battery you better carry another with you.  I bought the extended battery when I bought the phone.  This battery does ok but it too can drain if you're surfing the web quite a bit.  I naturally set the device to not download updates unless connected to WiFi.

I was kind of disappointed that it didn't come with a car charger.  This is a must have accessory especially if you're using Google Latitude and Navigation.  Both of which are great apps but can be an extreme drain on the battery.  Unfortunately if you're trying to use the car charger you can't use the type of cradle I have.  I had to turn it up side down because of where the USB port is located on the bottom left hand side.  Of set it in the cup holder.  Very disappointing.

Google Latitude is a very nice app..  It has some nice feature for locating resturants, coffee shops, etc....  It's been fairly accurate.  What's nice is when you find the place you want to go you can tap on the blue arrow and it will automatically launch Google Navigation.  Unfortunately, you can't hear the audio through the Bluetooth speakerphone.

That's it for now.

05 November 2011

Smartphone keyboard app.

If you read my blog you know that I finally purchased a Droid X2 in July. I have fat fingers and it was quite hard to tap the corrects keys sometime. I also couldn't do it very fast. A friend of mine who is a gadget hound told me to download Swype. Unfortunately it's not available in the Anroid Market App sites. You have to download it direcltly from http://swypeinc.com

The install is very smooth. I had no hassles and the instructions on their site are a step by step screenshot. I was very impressed.

I've been using this for several months. I give a two thumbs up rating or 5 stars depending on what system you want to use. You have to make sure that they have a version for your particular model phone.

If you want to see it demonstrated watch on their YouTube channel here. http://www.youtube.com/myswype

Have fun!