Bad Voltage Episode 80 Has Been Released: The Two-Percenters

In this episode, we devote the whole show to a different format: a wide-ranging discussion on Linux adoption and market share, following the news that it’s been trending up and over 2% consistently for a while now. Taking in the current state of hardware, Steam gaming, new devices from everyone else, and whether mobile is eating desktop or not, myself, Stuart Langridge, Bryan Lunduke and Jono Bacon dive deep into where Linux is going and whether we want it to get there at all.

Listen to 1×80: The Two-Percenters

–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 77 Has Been Released: Wax Cylinder Coming Soon

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, and myself present Bad Voltage, in which three idiots fail to recognize the glory of having the theme tune from The League Of Gentlemen as one’s ringtone, we create Garcia’s Law, and:

  • 00:02:01 Google have long been a player in the chat or IM ecosystem. But just lately their approach in this area seems to be getting more and more confused. What’s the deal, big G? You’ve got Allo and Duo and GTalk and Hangouts… what’s the end goal here?
  • 00:24:33 Open sourcing your hardware. Kyle from OpenMYR, who are currently kickstartering wifi-controllable motors1, asks the BV team: are we doing the right thing, publishing the hardware source for our creations? When’s the right time to open your hardware: before it exists, after it exists, or never? We look into the question and give some thoughts

Listen to 1×77: Wax Cylinder Coming Soon

–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: Philips Hue vs LifX, and are smart bulbs a good idea?

On the next episode of Bad Voltage, we discuss whether smart bulbs are a good idea. To get the conversation rolling, I started out with a brief introduction of two systems I use: Hue and LifX. Here’s how the segment starts:

The Bad Voltage team thought it would be interesting to have a discussion about smart bulbs: whether they’re a good idea or not, what the future holds, etc. Before we do that though, I thought I’d give a brief introduction of the multiple smart bulb solutions I have running in my home.

The first system I have running is Philips Hue. Based on the low-power, wireless mesh network zigbee standard this system requires a hub to operate. The Hue line offers a wide variety of options, including standard lights, accent lights, spot lights, light strips, integrated switches and more. Setup is a breeze and while the stock app could be more intuitive the large number of 3rd party applications and integrations more than make up for that. The bulbs are bright and color saturation is acceptable. One down side to this option is that it’s on the pricier end of the spectrum.

The second system I have running is LifX. Based on traditional wifi, no additional hub is needed. The LifX line is limited to standard white and color bulbs. Setup is once again a breeze and the stock app is intuitive and full featured. It includes some nice touches such as cool effects baked into the app that you can only get with Hue by using 3rd party apps. The number of 3rd party integrations isn’t as large as Hue, but has been growing steadily recently. The bulbs have the greatest brightness and color saturation of any smart bulb I’ve seen. The price of LifX bulbs are comparable to Hue.

Depending on your needs and design requirements, I’d recommend both systems. There are less expensive options from GE, Wink, WeMo, Cree and others but I’ve never used them so cannot comment on how they compare. With that brief intro out of the way let’s get to the first question my co-presenters had. Are smart bulbs a good idea? Let me give you a few examples of how I use the bulbs and then we’ll get the discussion going from there. First, on the more practical side I have a bunch of automations setup that make my home safer and more convenient. Open the front door when it’s dark outside and my living room lights go on. Open the basement door and the basement lights go on (which is especially handy while doing laundry). Next, as I have Redshift adjust the color temperature of my screens at night, the lights in my office also adjust to reduce the amount of blue light as it get later. Lastly, on the less practical side, when my favorite team scores a touchdown various lights in my house flash the team colors. So, fellow presenters, what do you think?

Turn in tomorrow to hear what my fellow presenters think. In the mean time, what is your opinion on smart bulbs?

–jeremy

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

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