Bad Voltage Episode 49 Has Been Released

Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself bring you the wonderful world of Bad Voltage, in which it’s all about the money, it’s never about the privacy, and we disagree about:

  • 00:05:03 The Endless Computer bills itself as “a computer for emerging markets”; a unit with a priority on design, created to plug into an existing TV and pre-packaged with content so it doesn’t need an internet connection. We discuss whether it lives up to its lofty goals.
  • 00:21:26 At roughly the same time, Dustin Kirkland wrote an extremely angry “open letter” to Google about his horrible Nest smoke alarms, and meanwhile our own Jeremy found himself very happy with his Nests. We asked Dustin for a comment, and Jeremy reviews the Nest 2 and why he’s considerably happier
  • 00:37:52 Hack Voltage: Stuart has been playing with drawing app Gliffy
  • 00:39:15 Microsoft: friend or foe of the open source community? Every time they seem good they turn around and do something terrible to us, but then the open source community have finally moved beyond the “Micro$oft” years and we want to embrace them as being on-side. Are they OK now? Are they as bad as they ever were?

We’re doing a live show, and you can be in the audience! See details of Bad Voltage Live, in Fulda, Germany on September 30th 2015, at badvoltage.org/live!

Listen to 1×49: The Tapas Of All Bananas

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

 

Nest Protect Generation 2 Review

In the next episode of Bad Voltage, I’ll be reviewing the Nest Protect Generation 2, a network capable Smoke + Carbon Monoxide detector. Tune in tomorrow to listen to the ensuing discussion and the rest of the show. In the interim, here’s the review:

Nest Protect Generation 2

As someone who travels quite a bit, a smoke detector that can notify me when I’m away is a compelling device. As a technology guy who has a fair amount of home automation equipment, a smoke detector that can integrate into my increasingly smarter home seems like a natural choice. So, why am I just now reviewing the Nest Protect? Well, the first generation Protect had quite a reputation for false alarms and a “wave” feature that was so buggy it resulted in a recall. And while I’m an early adopter who suffers through quite a few wonky first generation devices, when it comes to something as important as a safety device… I decided to play it safe. But when Nest recently released the Nest Protect generation 2, I decided to take the proverbial plunge.

While the generation 2 device is noticeably sleeker than its predecessor, its what’s inside that prompted my purchase. It uses an advanced smoke sensor, called a Split-Spectrum Sensor, to detect a wide range of smoke events, including both slow smoldering fires and fast flaming fires. That sensor is shielded against outside light and encased in a stainless steel screen, which has a hexagonal pattern designed to let smoke in and keep bugs, dust and fibers out. This should vastly decrease the likelihood of a false alarm. The device also has built-in sensors to detect carbon monoxide, heat, humidity, occupancy and ambient light, as well as (slightly disconcertingly for some I’m sure) a microphone. On the outside is a central button, surrounded by a colorful LED ring, which alerts you to the current status of the device: Blue during setup/testing, green for good, yellow for warning and red for an emergency.

Setting up the device was extremely straight forward. Download the Nest app (available for Android and iOS), select “Add product” and follow a couple simple prompts. Total install time was less than 5 minutes per device, although I installed the battery powered version. If you opt for the hardwired version it will take a little longer. You can enable a couple optional features during install, including Pathlight (which will turn the LED ring into a night-light if you walk by in the dark) and Nightly Promise (which will result in the device glowing green briefly at night, to let you know that it’s fully operational). Installation concludes with a final safety test.

As part of the install, you select where the device is located in your home. One thing that separates the Protect from a more traditional device is the Heads Up feature. If smoke or CO levels are elevated but not at emergency levels, the device will loudly say: “Heads up: there’s smoke in the hallway”. Once the levels pass a certain threshold, the full alarm is sounded and you will start to receive mobile notifications. Unlike the first gen device, you can silence the alarm from the app, although due to regulations there are some parameters around when you can do so. As a networked device, when one Protect senses trouble, all devices will alarm. That means if my Protect on the 3rd floor detects smoke, the device on the 1st floor will also alarm, making it much more likely someone will hear it. The device also regularly tests the battery and will inform you if it’s low, hopefully making the just-not-often-enough intermittent chirp of a dying smoke detector a thing of the past.

There are some additional features that more advanced users may take advantage of as well. The Protect can integrate with other Nest devices, so for example you can have a Dropcam send you a picture if the Protect alarms. There is also full IfThisThenThat support with quite a few existing recipes available. This enables scenarios such as “Text a neighbor when your Nest Protect detects a smoke alarm emergency” or “Add a reminder to my calendar when Nest Protect batteries are low”.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? At $99, the Protect is significantly more expensive than a traditional smoke detector. While I’ve only had the second generation devices for a little over a month, I haven’t gotten a single false alarm yet. If that remains the case, the additional features, notifications and integrations are compelling enough to justify the cost for me. Because I like redundancy, I also installed a more traditional (although Z Wave enabled) device on my second floor.

–jeremy

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 44 Has Been Released

Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke (he returns!), Stuart Langridge and myself present Bad Voltage, in which all books are signed from now on, we reveal that we are coming to Europe in September and you can come to the live show, and:

  • 00:01:39 In the last show, Bad Voltage fixed Mozilla, or at least proposed what we think they might want to do to fix themselves. We asked Mozilla PR for comment or a statement, and they declined. This leads into a discussion about Mozilla’s internal culture, and how their relationships with the community have changed
  • 00:18:14 Stuart reviews Seveneves, the new book by Neal Stephenson
  • 00:29:28 Bad Voltage Fixes the F$*%ing World: we pick a technology or company or thing that we think isn’t doing what it should be, and discuss what it should be doing instead. We look at a company who have been in the news recently, but maybe wish they weren’t: Sourceforge
  • 00:51:30 Does social media advertising work? We tried a challenge: we’d each spend fifty dollars on advertising Bad Voltage on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and the like, and see how we got on and whether it’s worth the money. Is it? Maybe you can do better?

Listen to 1×44: Bad Voltage

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. 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

 

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 43: Got The Om On

Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself present Bad Voltage, in which Bryan is sadly unavoidably absent, we discuss relationships between the Ubuntu and Kubuntu community councils, we ask you to tell us which bits you like, there are once again accusations that eating yoghurt is a bad personality trait, and:

  • 00:01:57 Bad Voltage Fixes the F$*%ing World: we pick a technology or company or thing that we think isn’t doing what it should be, and discuss what it should be doing instead. In this first iteration, we talk about Mozilla
  • 00:28:40 Meditation is reputedly a good way to relieve stress and stay centred, and we look at HeadSpace.com who offer a purchasable digital set of meditation tapes and guidebooks, as well as some brief diversions into the nature of relaxation and the voice of Jeff Bridges
  • 00:44:45 Rick Spencer, Canonical’s VP of Ubuntu engineering and services, talks about Canonical’s focus, the recent announcements around phones and “internet of things” devices, and how community feelings about Ubuntu’s direction dovetail with Canonical’s goals
  • 01:06:12 We’ve talked about 3d printers in the past, in the context of you owning one, but there are online services which allow you to upload a 3d design and then will print it in a variety of materials and send it back to you in the post. Could this be the way that 3d printing really reaches the mainstream?

Listen to 1×43: Got The Om On

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. 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

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 41: Second Lunch is my Favourite Lunch

Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, Stuart Langridge and myself present Bad Voltage, in which hell may be slightly chillier than previously. Featuring the uses for abundant graphical power, the nature of what “cross-platform” really means, and:

  • 00:02:15 Google announce Google Fi, a new MVNO-style mobile network joining together wifi, Sprint, and T-Mobile for US customers and allowing international roaming and a pay-what-you-need rate for data. Is this actually a good idea? What about how it only works on the Nexus 6?
  • 00:18:00 We speak to Mashable senior tech correspondent and podcaster Christina “@film_girl” Warren about the Microsoft Build conference announcement that the Visual Studio Code editor is newly available for Linux as well as other platforms, and MS’s apparent increasing friendliness to open source. Is it real? Is it good?
  • 00:37:16 Bryan reviews the NVIDIA Jetson TK-1 development kit, a Raspberry-Pi-style small board but with 192 GPU cores
  • 00:51:12 A blog comment from Glyph suggesting that “Linux is not, practically speaking, more tweakable” than alternative desktop OSes starts a discussion about whether that’s the truth and why Linux desktop automation tools aren’t (or are) as good as AppleScript and Windows COM automation

Listen to 1×41: Second Lunch is my Favourite Lunch

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. 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

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 39: Ambitious but Rubbish

Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself present Bad Voltage (without Bryan Lunduke who is currently struggling with an attack of Ebola), in which everything needs to be an order of magnitude better. Featuring flying bags of flammable liquid, 120 frames per second, and:

  • What needs to happen so that I can have a drone to deliver my pizza and pick up my shopping? Drawing a line through the technological, regulatory, and philosophical minefield standing between today and Jono’s Glorious Drone-Filled Future (2.40)
  • Tarus Balog speaks about OpenNMS, a network management system for big networks, and some recent changes in the project (27.01)
  • Jono reviews the Go Pro Hero 3+ silver edition extreme sports camera (45.24)
  • Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from Top Gear for hitting a colleague. We draw some fairly obvious parallels between the world of open source and this twin situation of standing up against unacceptable behaviour and whether a project is viable if a leading contributor is dismissed (59.38)

Listen to 1×39: Ambitious but Rubbish

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. 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

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 38: Easy Being Green

Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself present Bad Voltage, in which we decide to talk about Linux almost completely for the whole show. Featuring following the dare in the last show a great deal of OpenSuSE (or openSUSE or opensuse or possibly Open SUSE), green-coloured things, and:

  • If you want a thing fixed in an open source project, and you’re prepared to pay market rate for a developer to get it fixed… how do you find someone to pay to fix it? It seems harder than you might think (1.49)
  • We speak as part of this openSUSE-based show to Andrew Wafaa, long-time contributor and member of the openSUSE community board, about why he’s involved and where openSUSE stands with the rest of the free software community (19.30)
  • In the last show Bryan threw down a challenge to the other three to spend time using openSUSE and report back on their findings. We tried Gnome, KDE, and Enlightenment: now we talk about how that went and what we think about openSUSE as a whole (40.42)
  • We review the newly-released Dell M3800 laptop powerhouse (73.12)

Listen to 1×38: Easy Being Green

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. 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