I Sur-Vive-ed VR

htc_vive_demoLet me cut to the chase. VR is real and it’s amazing. If you’re one of those people who can’t see it, or who despite the fixes in place still get sick from it, I’m so sorry but you’re missing out. I honestly hope if you’re in that small subset of people that the geniuses who make these things figure out how to fix it for you.

I first had my eyes opened to VR way back at some age I can’t even specifically remember with the Virtual Boy by Nintendo.  It was SUPER basic and low power but it was stereoscopic 3D when the only other option to do that was in the pages of Popular Mechanics or happened to have access to some MIT or Silicon Valley lab. This amazing technology disappeared(not entirely but at least in popular culture) until recently when it was announced that it was finally time and that a kid out in California figured out that modern technology is ready for that. The Occulus Rift was born and I got to try a pre-DK1 unit at Quakecon 4 years ago. Let me expound on that experience for a moments to give some better context.

Continue reading “I Sur-Vive-ed VR”

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I don’t give much credit to Nintendo for a lot of things outside of making entertaining games. Frankly they’re terrible about keeping up with the modern state of gaming, by in large, and they’re especially bad at dealing with networking and the Internet. So it seems weird that I’m about to write about Nintendo doing something, arguably, right on just such a subject.

Many a games journalism website has seen fit to highlight the New 3DS’s microSD card slot and the fact that it’s kind of oddly locked away under a bottom cover that requires a tool to get in to. Knowing only this as I’m sure many people will might lead one to believe that this is just Nintendo up to their old tricks. And at first glance you’d be right. If you have a need to physically swap sd cards then perhaps you’re out of luck.3DS SD Card Share

Fortunately if you’re just looking to make a backup Nintendo got smart and tucked away a little trick that makes that microSD card accessible through a network share on your home network.

Under “Data Management” you will find an option for “microSD Management”. This wizard will walk you through creating a network name for your 3DS and a username and password and then connect you to your homes wifi network so you can access the storage on the card.

On your windows PC open a file explorer window and in the quick access icons in the left window pane scroll down to network and click the icon. You should see the name of your 3DS listed. Click on that to access it. If for some reason you don’t see your 3DS listed click on any blank space in the address bar on the file explorer window and type \\MY3DSNAME where MY3DSNAME is the name you picked for your 3DS. This should find and open your 3DS files for you.

Enjoy this tiny slice of Nintendo finally getting with the new(I use the word loosely) networked world. There isn’t much of it to be had.

Week 1 With The Netgear Nighthawk R7000

IMG_20140701_140315Last week my router was fried by my lovely cable company who can’t be bothered to ground their cables. The power surge came in not on the power line but on the network line. This also took down my PCs NIC as well. The NIC is inconsequential really. This forced me in to a tough decision. Do I go with another Asus router like the two prior? I LOVE Asus routers. Not only does their stock firmware come with virtually any option a moderately well seasoned IT vet could want but they also feature a wealth of tools that make one click jobs out of otherwise complicated time consuming tasks like trying to setup QOS. The catch is that the competition has been working on upping their game with routers like the Nighthawk and the WRT1900AC.

If you’re not interested in the review and just want to get to the instructions for flashing DD-WRT go HERE.

Continue reading “Week 1 With The Netgear Nighthawk R7000”

Leap Motion Day 1

First let me apologize for the vertical video above. I know that’s a travesty to the Internet. I was really darn excited for the Leap and my attempt at re-recording it turned out blurry and not nearly as good.

Day one with Leap Motion has been mostly a day of joy at interacting with my computer in a new way. Not just tapping and touching and scrolling but pushing and pulling and flying around as if my hand were out the car window. It’s been very refreshing. Lets see what setup was like.

Leap Motion Airspace Market Continue reading “Leap Motion Day 1”

Glass – Not As Popular As The Cell Phone

glass-snlPlease stop trying to over sell “wearable computing” and more specifically Google Glass. The reason isn’t that I hate the idea of wearable computing or Google glass, simply that there is historical proof of it’s limited desire and usability. Moving the processing closer to the input and output isn’t going to change the comfort or social acceptability of the input/output. It never has. Why would you expect it to now? In short, learn from the past!

Bluetooth headsets are considered obnoxious and only really useful when you’re driving or otherwise have to have your hands full. Every one knows the dbags that walk around looking smug and talking to themselves while ignoring the rest of humanity that isn’t in their ear. Continue reading “Glass – Not As Popular As The Cell Phone”

LG Optimus L9 Review – Sweet Spot Mid-range Phone?

So what is the LG Optimus L9? Lets have a look at some specs and pics.

LG Optimus L9

GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100
SIM Mini-SIM
Announced 2012, August
Status Available. Released 2012, November
BODY
Dimensions 131.9 x 68.2 x 9.1 mm (5.19 x 2.69 x 0.36 in)
Weight 125 g (4.41 oz)
DISPLAY
Type IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 540 x 960 pixels, 4.7 inches (~234 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
MEMORY
Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 4 GB, 1 GB RAM
FEATURES
OS Android OS, v4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), upgradable to v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
Chipset TI OMAP 4430
CPU Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9
GPU PowerVR SGX540

As you can see this phone isn’t half bad. Dual core at 1ghz isn’t breaking speed records but it’s also not the slowest thing on the market. For a phone at this price point 1GB of ram is pretty decent. Outside of the absolute newest phones anything that runs decent has a 1GB or more.

The one thing I was really worried about was the display not being 720p. IPS means good color and nice dark blacks so the sharpness was at question. I was pleased to find that the combination of display density at 234ppi plus the good quality of the panel results in a very nice looking image. I even compared it side by side with a friends Galaxy Nexus and speed was comparable and the image quality was as good or better.

My final point of concern was Ice Cream Sandwich. I know quite a few people ascribe to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but Jelly Bean does bring quite a few performance enhancements and new features. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the phone moves along very quickly and smoothly. This means if you root and re-rom to Jelly Bean you should be getting even better performance.

All around this is a large, sharp looking, fast and affordable phone that just works well. We’ll enough to satiate my gadget lust for an HTC One and rest assured that’s tough to do. Of course this is subjective.

So let’s see how it stacks up in a couple of synthetic tests Antutu and Quadrant.
Continue reading “LG Optimus L9 Review – Sweet Spot Mid-range Phone?”

Samsung Chromebook Series 3(arm) Two Weeks And Counting

Chromebook Macbook Air ComparisonI just started a new job in a new town that was quite a long ways away. It seemed to me that minimizing the amount of stuff I have to move would be a good idea. With this in mind I parred down my devices and almost all of my housing stuffs. I gave my brother my desktop PC and had previously sold my laptop. I’ve wanted to play with a Chromebook for quite a while so now, when I need to travel and need a small light machine with great battery life used primarily for communication, seemed to be the ideal time for it. So I bought my Dad’s Samsung Chromebook Series 3, the ARM based Chromebook, at a family discount. He had picked it up to study for his Google Apps for Education certification.

I’ve nearly completed my move 2 weeks later. I’m in my new apartment. I have internet hooked up and I’m just waiting on my follow on load of house furnishings. My experience has been a mixed bag that seems to have followed the timeline pretty closely. That is week one was pretty good and week two has been a little frustrating. That’s how I’m going to approach this.

Week one was comprised largely of travel and transition and this seemed to be where the device shined. Looking at the parts and components the Samsung Chromebook is a cell phone wedged in to something slightly larger than a netbook and designed to replicate the Macbook Air. The hardware experience is second to none. The device is small and light and solid and comfortable to mouse and type on. It’s easy to throw in a bag or backpack and go and it’s got enough battery life to keep you running when a wall outlet isn’t immediately available. On the software side it’s literally just a browser with a keyboard. The fact that chat and video and all these things are available on the web really makes it work. Being able to quickly whip out the device and communicate in a form longer than a text message or tweet was priceless. Being able to fill out all the forms and fields required to get business done to find housing, communicate with my new employer and handle things back in Iowa was beautiful. These are things I probably could have done on my phone or tablet but not as efficiently, or comfortably, on a touch keyboard vs a real physical keyboard.

Week two is where the experience begins to fall apart. As I mentioned I sold most of my hardware and it’s going to take a paycheck or two before I can afford to rebuild my gaming rig and buy a new laptop or setup any home servers. This means I’m still relying on the Chromebook but now I’m stationary. I’m finding myself wanting to do stationary computing things. I want to game. I want to run an SSH server so I can get at things back home from work or while I’m out and about. I want to watch longer form online web video(Hulu web only, WTF?). The only way to get my SSH server was to get Linux running on the Chromebook. Due to UEFI and locked bootloaders the only options are hacks of Linux sitting on top of the signed ChromeOS kernel. Needless to say most implementations are hacks and pretty rough. I got it working eventually. Gaming is especially sparse on the ARM based Chromebook due to the difference in architecture. Right now Arcane Legends from Spacetime Studios is the only extensive game experience I could find that actually worked. Lastly long form video. The Linux ports do not have hardware accelerated graphics so most games are out for Linux. I do have a TV and the Chromebook does have an HDMI port but trying to run flash based video on a high resolution television results in a rather low frame rate experience. Watching Hulu on a tablet or phone would have been a smoother experience but the idea is to watch it on a larger more comfortable screen.

The take away seems to be that you need to think of the Chromebook as a travel companion. Essentially a phone with a keyboard in order to get the optimum experience. It’s a beautiful thing when you can whip it out quickly and jump on hotel wifi and author a fairly long form e-mail and then throw it back in your backpack and go with out worrying so much about battery life. Just don’t mistake this device for a real laptop. If you want a device that works in nearly every situation save the extra $100 over the Chromebook’s $250 base price and get an AMD A series based laptop with a reasonably decent video card. But if you plan to travel frequently the Chromebook is probably for you.

I’ll be hanging on to my Chromebook for those situations where long travel with limited space may present itself.

Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire Review

Ainol Next To Nexus 7
Nexus 7 and Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire

So here’s my Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire review. Warning, it’s long. If you’re over 65 don’t bother you’ll be gone before you reach the end.

First a run down of features:
AMLogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Arm Cortex A9 at 1.5Ghz
Mali 400 GPU
1GB DDR3
16GB Storage
1280×800 Super IPS display
2MP Front Camera
5MP Rear Camera
Mini HDMI port
MicroSD card slot
Micro USB port
Bluetooth
Headphone Jack
Power connector for fast wall charging
5000mAH battery(non-user replaceable)

I’m going to do a lot of comparison to the Nexus 7 as that is the tablet I currently own and is among one of the most popular. So if you love something else…buy a Novo 7 Flame and do your own review. Pics of and from the device can be found here. https://plus.google.com/u/0/115872604535305832370/posts/9GPQAWowYA7

Well lets jump in shall we? The device is very presentable. It’s got a nice brushed aluminum back and the tablet standard black plastic bezel around the screen. It appears to be designed to be used primarily in landscape mode because it has a top(landscape) or right(portrait) orientation for both the front and rear cameras. So basically to ensure you are right side up during hangouts you will have to use the tablet in landscape orientation. Over all the build quality feels solid. Continue reading “Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire Review”

Backup!

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

Back up your data!

If it’s your PC back it up to an external drive. If you can move that drive off site all the better. Give it to a relative or put it in a safe deposit box. In this day and age of “cloud” there are also numerous internet backup solutions you could use as well.

Backups aren’t just limited to your PC. Your phone, tablet and your video game consoles need to be backed up too.

If your phone has a microSD card slot go pick up an extra card just for keeping a backup. There is no doubt an app for your phone/tablet platform of choice to save a backup to that card. Do the same as before and store it some place safe preferably away from where the data is normally used.

Last but not least and some might be surprised to hear this your video game console can be backed up too. If you have a PS3 go find a USB hard drive that is equal to or larger than the drive in your console and under the Settings > System Settings you’ll find a backup utility. Be warned it compresses your data so it takes a while to run. And then go make sure you sync your trophies.

If you have an Xbox you’re consigned to USB drives no larger than, correct me if I’m wrong, 32GB. I also believe this will be changing in the near future(or has all ready?) so you can plug in any drive. Plug in your drive and go to Settings > System > Storage > Transfer Content and select the items you want to backup. Make sure if you didn’t backup save games that they are at least syncing to online storage.

For a home user I would say do this at minimum once a month to ensure you are never out all your data. Thank you for your time and attention!

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