Bad Voltage Episode 70 Has Been Released: Delicious Amorphous Tech Bubble

Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke and myself bring you Bad Voltage, in which the wisdom of naming children for your favourite restaurant is debated, Stuart and his daughter Niamh Chipotle write the show notes from a New York cafe, and also:

  • 00:01:58 Is the tech industry in a bubble? is the tech industry ever not in a bubble? More importantly, what shape is the bubble? What can we do about it?
  • 00:17:20 Jeremy and Jono tag-team a further review of Google’s Pixel C laptop. Warning: contains gushing
  • 00:36:50 After discussing Nextcloud in previous episodes, we talk to Frank and Jos from the new project about their plans as a company and where they’re headed
  • 01:01:00 A catch-up on the current status of the Global Learning X-Prize

Listen to 1×70: Delicious Amorphous Tech Bubble

–jeremy

From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

My Thoughts on the Pixel C

As Jono and I recently received Pixel C’s, we thought that instead of doing a traditional review (the device is 6 months old, so plenty of those exist), it might be fun to do a segment where I give my quick thoughts, he gives a short rebuttal followed by discussion including the rest of the Bad Voltage team. Here’s my bit. Tune into Bad Voltage tomorrow to see hear Jono’s rebuttal and the ensuing discussion.

The Pixel C is the first Android device in the Pixel lineup. The 10.2 inch tablet has an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, 3G of RAM and either 32 or 64G of storage. It contains the sensors, cameras and other items you’d expect out of a high end tablet and is USB-C based. The device is very well constructed and with the optional keyboard weighs almost as much as Jono’s Macbook Air.

As the device has been out for over 6 months, I won’t get into specs or basic usability as much as I normally do. There are plenty of existing reviews out there if you want that information (although if you’re interested in me doing a more in-depth review at another time, I’m happy to do so). I will say that the device has a really premium build quality and performs extremely well. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as it starts at $649 once you factor in the keyboard. On that topic, the keyboard feels better than I anticipated and while its magnetic system is a little tricky at first, it’s not nearly as bad as Bryan would have you believe.

One thing many existing reviews mention is that while the hardware is fantastic, the hybrid nature of the device is really held back by Android. This review is to let you know that soon this will no longer be the case. Why? I’ve been running the Android N Developer Preview on the device for a while and the addition of Multi-window support has the potential to flat out change how useful the Pixel C is. The current split screen mode is a good start and has changed how I use the device. I think freeform mode will be the real game changer, although it looks like Google may choose to make that feature a manufacturer option, at least initially. If you have a device capable of running the Android N Beta, I recommend checking it out. So far it has been stable enough for me to use daily. The one minor change I’d make to the device is the addition of a small track pad. That aside, if you’re looking for a high end hybrid tablet, with Android N the Pixel C is definitely worth a look… especially if you can find one at a discount as it ages.

–jeremy

From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

Bad Voltage Episode 69 Has Been Released: Bill and Ted and Jeremy and Bryan and Jono and Stuart’s Excellent Adventure

Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, Stuart Langridge and myself bring you Bad Voltage, in which none of us like each other’s books, this is actually a real actual show, and also:

  • 00:03:00 The Nextcloud project has been formed by people leaving the Owncloud company and forking the product. What’s this all about? What does it mean for {Own,Next}cloud, and for self-hosted file syncing?
  • 00:25:30 Bryan reviews the Dell XPS 13 developer laptop, 2016 edition
  • 00:40:42 Money and open source projects. As more projects start putting together ways to get money from donations or Patreon or funding, what should they do with that money? How do you decide how to parcel it out fairly?

Listen to 1×69: Bill and Ted and Jeremy and Bryan and Jono and Stuart’s Excellent Adventure

From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

Are You Involved With an Open Source Project That’s In Need of Funding? I May Be Able to Help.

A while back, I agreed to join the Linux Fund board. For those unfamiliar with the organization, our mission reads as follows: “Linux Fund is a community-neutral 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides financial and administrative support to the open source community.” With that in mind, are you involved with an Open Source project that would benefit from a targeted donation to accomplish a specific goal or task? If so please contact me with details and we’ll see if Linux Fund is a good fit. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me directly or post here.

–jeremy

Withings Aura Smart Sleep System Review

In the most recent episode of Bad Voltage, I reviewed the Withings Aura Smart Sleep System. Tune in to listen to the ensuing discussion and the rest of the show.

Long time listeners will recall I reviewed the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer a couple years ago. As I mentioned in that review, I’m someone who makes a concerted effort to stay relatively healthy. Part of that means exercising regularly and being cognizant of my eating habits, but as an Open Source tech guy, I’m someone who prefers to make empirical decisions. I like data. I like being able to spot trends and from there see if I can find causation. A large part of staying healthy is getting enough sleep, any studies have shown that many people simply don’t get enough. While I was interested in getting data about my sleep, having to wear a device to bed every night or remember to activate a device regularly is anathema to me. Enter the Withings Aura Smart Sleep System, which aims to track your sleep without any manual interaction.61Ngbyn-QTL._SY400_

The Aura consists of two pieces: A plastic bedside device that serves as a control panel, speaker, digital clock, USB port and LED light that works in conjunction with the sleep programs and alarms, and a flat cloth sleep sensor that you place under your mattress. Once configured the device will automatically track and measure Temperature, Luminosity, Sound levels, Heart rate and amount of sleep. Sleep is broken up into light, deep and REM cycles which are then combined with time awake to give you a number for total time in bed, including how long it took you to initially fall asleep. The data is sent to the same Android or iOS Health Mate app as the WS-50, which syncs the data with the online portal. In addition to tracking, you can set a sleep program which combines soothing sound with a sunset light spectrum (which is various shades of red, from lighter to darker), use the nap program which allows you to sleep for a specific duration of time or set a traditional alarm. One nice alarm feature is that you tell the app not only what time you need to get up, but how many minutes before that you are willing to get up. It uses this data along with the sleep tracking to slowly start waking you using sunrise spectrum light (various shades of blue, from dark to light) and soft sounds once it detects you’re in the optimum part of your sleep cycle during that time window. You can even be woken up to a custom Spotify playlist.

Once you’ve had the device for a while, the app and online dashboard start to build activity and sleep patterns. While it’s easy to see how much sleep you’re getting and what kind of sleep you’re getting, there’s unfortunately no attempt to explain why you may not be getting enough sleep or what actions you could take to try to improve your sleep. I should note that I initially had some issues with connectivity and the alarm function, but recent firmware updates seem to have addressed those. Withings has consistently improved the app and online control panel, and has added additional functionality (most recently Nest integration). The device retails for $299 with one sleep sensor or $369 with two. Roughly a week before this review, Withings was acquired by Nokia, so it’s too soon to know what long term impact that will have.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System gives you a lot of data and in my experience has been surprisingly accurate. The passive nature of the device appeals to me and ensures you have consistent and reliable data. While it would be nice if there was an attempt to further analyze the data and give customized actionable advice, you have the raw data to do this yourself. Overall the device works well, and if the concept appeals to you it’s something I’d recommend.

–jeremy

Ambient Weather WS-1001-Wifi Observer Review

In the most recent episode of Bad Voltage, I reviewed the Ambient Weather WS-1001-Wifi Observer Personal Weather Station. Tune in to listen to the ensuing discussion and the rest of the show.

Regular listeners will know I’m an avid runner and sports fan. Add in the fact that I live in a city where weather can change in an instant and a personal weather station was irresistible to the tech and data enthusiast inside me. After doing a bit of research, I decided on the Ambient Weather WS-1001-Wifi Observer. While it only needs to be performed once, I should note that setup is fairly involved. The product comes with three components: An outdoor sensor array which should be mounted on a pole, chimney or other suitable area, a small indoor sensor and an LCD control panel/display console. The first step is to mount the all-in-one outdoor sensor, which remains powered using a solar panel and rechargeable batteries. It measures and transmits outdoor temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, and both UV and solar radiation. Next, mount the indoor sensor which measures and transmits indoor temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. Finally, plug in the control panel and complete the setup procedure which will walk you through configuring your wifi network, setting up NTP, syncing the two sensors and picking your units of measurement. Note that all three devices must be within 100-330 feet of each other, depending on layout and what materials are between them.

With everything setup, data will now start collecting on your display console and is updated every 14 seconds. In addition to showing all the data previously mentioned you will also see wind gusts, wind chill, sunrise, sunset, phases of the moon, dew point, rainfall rate and some historical graphs. There is a ton of data presented and while the sparse dense layout works for me, it has been described as unintuitive and overwhelming by some.

While seeing the data in real-time is interesting, you’ll likely also want to see long term trends and historical data. While the device can export all data to an SD card in CSV format, it becomes much more compelling when you connect it with the Weather Underground personal weather station network. Once connected, the unit becomes a public weather station that also feeds data to the Wunderground prediction model. That means you’ll be helping everyone get more accurate data for your specific area and better forecasts for your general area. You can even see how many people are using your PWS to get their weather report. There’s also a very slick Wunderstation app that is a great replacement for the somewhat antiquated display console, although unfortunately it’s currently only available for the iPad.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? At $289 the Ambient Weather WS-1001-WIFI OBSERVER isn’t cheap. In an era of touchscreens and sleek design, it’s definitely not going to win any design awards. That said, it’s a durable well built device that transmits and displays a huge amount of data. The Wunderground integration is seamless and knowing that you’re improving the predictive model for your neighborhood is surprisingly satisfying. If you’re a weather data junkie, this is a great device for you.

ws-1001-wifi-bd A1001PWS1

–jeremy

Bad Voltage Episode 61 Has Been Released: Head Boiling

Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, Stuart Langridge and myself bring you Bad Voltage, in which we ask, to distro or not to distro? We are also apparently twonkles, we don’t fit inside the case, and:

  • 00:02:03 KDE Neon is a new distribution from some of the KDE team designed to show off the latest and greatest KDE, based on Ubuntu. Or maybe it’s just a technology showcase and not intended to be your actual main OS. It seems to not be very clear exactly what KDE Neon is for, either within or without the KDE project; what might this all be about?
  • 00:23:28 Jono reviews the Bluesmart suitcase: a piece of luggage with Bluetooth and a battery and more technology than the USS Enterprise
  • 00:34:10 Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn from the Software Freedom Conservancy talk about what the SFC is and enforcing GPL compliance in a world of violating Internet of Things devices
  • 01:00:00 Rachel Roumeliotis from O’Reilly and organiser of OSCON follows up on a previous discussion about tech conferences and talks about how OSCON is changing to stay fresh

Listen to 1×61: Head Boiling

From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

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