Gift Idea: Oculus Go

The other day I was in a Best Buy store and came across a salesperson with Oculus Go. I was curious. After talking to salesman about how it works, I had to give my name and email (of course) in order to try it out. So what is it? It’s a standalone VR headset. Standalone in that you don’t need to hook up your phone or a computer to see the content and can take just the headset with you. It fits right over eyeglasses. There are built-in speakers. It has a 2560 x 1400 p screen. It comes in 2 models: 32GB ($199) and 64GB ($249). It only comes in a light gray. The company is owned by Facebook.

So here I am in the middle of the store holding the controller with my arms outstretched playing demo games and watching demo movies. You can see above you, behind you, and all around. I got to see a demo short of Jurassic Park Blue. It was like the dinos were right in front of me. I played a game that was a lot of fun called Fail Factory. I must have been moving around too much because the sales person had to move me back. They do suggest you use this sitting down for that reason. It was a lot of fun and I am contemplating getting one.

Some caveats – rechargeable battery life is only about 2 hours gaming and 2 1/2 hours watching movies so you can’t plan on it for an entire flight if your flight is over that. There is only 3 degrees of freedom rather than 6 in most VR sets. Case is sold separately (unless you find a deal that includes the case). 32GB will hold about 3 HD movies, 10 games, and 20 apps. 64 GB will hold about 7 HD movies, 20 games, and 40 apps.

The Jody Victor Crew

Gift Idea: Instant Pot

By now you must have heard of the Instant Pot. This is one pot with many functions. It is a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker, it steams, it sears, and a few more things. I’ve seen many recipes on Pinterest for the Instant Pot. I understand you can purchase other items that will fit in it, such as a small cheesecake pan. So should you get one? That’s still up for debate.

I myself have bought one three times – all as gifts. Right now I don’t feel I need one because I have a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, and a yogurt maker. All are in good shape and don’t need replacement any time soon. The people I’ve gotten the Instant Pot for didn’t have any of the appliances in the list so this would be a first for them.

Its name can be misleading as nothing is really instant. I believe the name focuses on the pressure cooking part of it because a pressure cooker does cook much faster than standard methods. For instance I can cook a 3+ lb chuck roast to make pot roast in about 45 minutes as opposed to about 2.5 hours on the stove or in the over or even longer in a slow cooker. What these times don’t include for the pressure cooker is the start up time to build up the steam or the time it takes for the pressure to release.

If the person you are buying for hasn’t done much cooking, I understand it may take a while to learn to do all the things that the appliance is capable of. You would have to read the manual and follow the directions.

Some more pluses are you can brown your meat and cook in same pot unlike using a slow cooker. You can start with your meat frozen and still cook in about the same amount of time.

Victor Crew

Gift Ideas

With Christmas coming we will try to find some gift ideas for the next few weeks. This would be something we see, but may not necessarily buy for ourselves but know someone who might like it.

First off, lets start with the PowerPic from Twelve South.
This is a picture in a frame with a hidden phone charger. Only works with iPhone 8 and up, Pixel, Galaxy, or any Qi-enabled smartphone. It is a pine frame that you plug in. It has a hidden Qi charger to wirelessly charge your phone. You can choose from black or white frame. It works even with your case on your phone. When you put your phone on the frame, it completes the picture. You can download the frame pictures and phone pictures from their website. This will set you back $79.99.

Where do you learn how to?

Be it tying a tie, making a turkey, or learning a knitting technique, there are are many places to learn things. Many people go to YouTube to learn things while they do them like a new recipe or that tie or knitting technique. Even if you do a general web search, you are bound to find some videos showing you how to “do” it. According to Pew Research Center, about half of the people that go to YouTube do so to learn how to do something.

With Thanksgiving Day arriving this week, the top search showing as you type would be “how to cook a turkey”. There are many variations of like “how to brine a turkey” for example.

Google Search

There are other places to learn things like wikiHow. You just put in your search and it will show you some choices. Instead of videos you may find nice large pictorial steps telling you what to do for each step. On this site you can even ask questions.

If you have questions related to technology, there’s always How-To Geek website. From choosing a device to setting it up, they have suggestions for you.

Wi-Fi 6

We talked about Wi-Fi a couple weeks ago. Let’s expand on that. Now they have given Wi-Fi version numbers for the different protocol types identified by the letter suffix on 802.11. Let’s start with 802.11 and what it is.

The 802.11 protocol is set forth by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) They are the ones who set the standards of what is under each protocol, specifically the IEEE 802.11™ Wireless Local Area Networks, the working group for WLAN standards. They have regular sessions and presentations about 802.11 protocol. There is one being held right now in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Wi-Fi Alliance® has now assigned version numbers to different Wi-Fi protocols.

  • Wi-Fi 6, which will be available next year will be 802.11ax standard.
  • Wi-Fi 5 is the 802.11ac standard
  • Wi-Fi 4 is the 802.11n standard

Older standards are not being given a version number because they are not widely used anymore.

Wi-Fi Certified WiGig™ will bring bands of 60 GHz with multi-gigabit speeds, suitable for virtual reality and HD streaming. Wi-Fi security WPA3™ will have increased crytographic strengths.

Sources and Further Reading:
http://www.ieee802.org/11/
https://www.wi-fi.org/news-events/newsroom/wi-fi-alliance-introduces-wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/next-generation-wi-fi

NextDoor

Have you joined nextdoor.com yet? We received a postcard in the mail about it, so we joined. The call themselves “The private social network for your neighborhood.” They have a website and an app. “When neighbors start talking, good things happen.”

Some of the posts we’ve seen are things like “does anyone have a recommendation for a ___” (fill in the blank). It could be a painter, a handyman, a babysitter, etc. You can see local events, yard sales, people can post things to sell, and a host of other things like lost pets, pets for adoption, elderly asking for help with yard work.

Some of the posts are a little more serious, like reporting breakins or robberies. Of course there are also ads.

On a lighter note, it is fun to see of the more obnoxious posts. Like “Crazies on motorcycles” or “Blue heron eating pond fish”. If you really want to have fun with it, you can follow @bestofnextdoor on twitter.com. They have culled some of the more outlandish posts from around the country and posted them for people to see. You will see some posts with added phrases such as “This is not a dating app” or “Nextdoor is twitter for old people”. Have fun.

https://nextdoor.com/
https://twitter.com/bestofnextdoor

Wi-Fi

We recently upgraded our Wi-Fi through our provider. What was new was we noticed two different bands to choose from. One was just a regular band (at 2.4 GHz) and a new one showing as 5 GHz. So what is the difference? Let’s find out.

Coming right to my mailbox, I received a newsletter and there was an article referenced to it. So let’s go over it.

First we learn that 2.4 GHz will support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps dependent on router class. That comes with the standards you may see on router boxes as 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac. Not sure what mine was since it’s not printed on the box itself, I found the manual for it online and found it has all the above! So let’s chase this rabbit and find out what the difference between these classes are.

802.11b was better than the original 802.11 standard in July 1999. It brought the speed up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g, brought about in 2002, is supported by all devices and network equipment and supports up to 54 Mbps bandwidth. It is the least expensive to buy and run. 802.11n came about in 2009 and gives up to 800 Mbps bandwidth, an improvement over 802.11g but a little more expensive than 802.11g. 802.11ac has the fastest maximum speed and best range but more expensive. It uses dual-band wireless – thus the 2.4 and 5 GHz we can now see. Its bandwidth is 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz and up to 450 Mbps on 2.4. This is also called Wi-Fi 5. There are a few other 802.11 standards. 802.11ad is fast but the device must be within 11 feet. 802.11ah is a lower energy but goes beyond the reaches of 802.11ac.

So now I’ve learned that I am seeing two bands because of the 802.11ac standard. The 2.4 GHz band happens to be used by other things as well. Old cordless telephones as well as garage door openers and baby monitors for instance. The 5 GHz band has fewer connections and higher speeds, however the shorter waves makes it harder to penetrate walls. You may need to use extenders for this band. If your device can use ethernet, then that will be the best connection you can have. The 5 GHz band is best used for streaming where you would experience less interference.

802.11 Standards Explained
Difference Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Atlas Robot

Boston Dynamics has a few projects they are working on in robotics. Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by MIT. In 2013, they were acquired by Google X which later became Alphabet, Inc. In 2017, Boston Dynamics was sold to SoftBank (remember Pepper?). We have previously discussed Spot also developed by Boston Dynamics.

Atlas is a 6-foot robot that is more humanoid with 2 legs. It was unveiled to the public in 2013. It has slowly been evolving. It now can do parkour (similar to military obstacle course training):

Google turned 20

Google recently had it’s 20 year anniversary. We found this interesting video of where it got its start. It was uploaded by Google’s sixth employee, Harry. It shows the garage where they got their start in 1998. At the end you will see Larry Page, one of the founders.

Larry Page is no longer CEO of Google as he has become CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Logging into any Google service logs you into Chrome

As of version 69, the Chrome browser will log you in and sync when you visit any Google site like Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc. For whatever reason, you may not want to be logged in, or you may not want them to keep track of everything you do. They are not giving you that choice anymore.

There was a discussion on Twitter about it with Adrienne Porter Felt, a Chrome engineer and manager.

Apparently after these discussions and feedback, Google is going to back down and make some changes come version 70 coming out in mid-October. They will allow sign-in without syncing. If you want to sync between devices, you will need to turn sync on. Signing into a Google owned website will not sign them into Chrome at the same time.

Facebook Breach

By now you’ve heard about last week’s Facebook breach in which 50 million user’s accounts were impacted. This time, attackers had the ability to directly take over user accounts. Facebook logged out 90 million users from their accounts – the 50 million affected and 40 million more that may have been. They also announced that other sites could be affected if you use your Facebook credentials to log into them.

The persons responsible, who haven’t been found yet, were able to get to the access tokens, kind of like session hijacking. The problem was found in the video uploader page. Find out more about it from How-to Geek.

Get Ready for Windows 10 October 2018 Update

In October, Microsoft will be rolling out a major Fall update. With the update rolling out in the next few weeks, you may need to do some preparing for the update. According to some rumors from some different places, it will require anywhere from 10 to 20GB free space. If you do not have enough space, the update will fail.

In case you didn’t know, it will be easy to rid your machine of unnecessary files if you previously received the April 2018 update. Here is what you do: Go to Settings >> System >> Storage. Under Storage Sense, you can click the link that says “Free up space now”. Once you click it you will see a list of files you can clean up such as Windows upgrade log files, Windows update cleanup, thumbnails, temporary files, temporary internet files, your recycle bin, and a few others.

Halt and Catch Fire

In computing, Halt and Catch Fire is a mnemonic for HCF, a code instruction to stop operation. The machine would then need a restart.

Halt and Catch Fire is also the name of a series that ran on AMC. It was a depiction of the how the World Wide Web grew in the 80s and 90s. A fictional series, it follows several characters and their struggles along the way trying to outpace others in development and ideas. Some of the struggles were with hardware and others were with software. It really is fun to see how far we’ve come when we see some of what happened and see some of the hardware that was used then.

It aired for 4 seasons. You can catch all four seasons on Netflix. Here is the trailer for the first season:

Remember the Y2K issue? There’s another issue coming!

The Y2K problem, or bug, or just Y2K refers to when the year 2000 hit, there was a scare put into some people as computers weren’t set up for the rollover from the year 1999 to 2000. All sorts of rumors went around that time. Some thought there would be no electricity and that the power grids would come down. Many went into survival mode and bought gold, canned goods, and other commodities they thought they would need in the case they needed to barter for goods.

So this leads us to what the next “crisis” that is looming. The year 2038. We have plenty of time to prepare for this crisis but here is the gist. When digital systems started, they began with the date of January 1, 1970. So having it as 32-bit binary integer, time cannot be implemented after 03:14:07 UTC on January 19, 2038. Strings for storage are limited to 2147483647 and that would be the same as that time in January 2038 in bytes in a 32-bit system. 20 years from now, you would hardly still be running a 32-bit system you might still be running today.

Rare Apple-1 Computer up for auction this month

This is your chance to own an original Apple-1 computer from 1976. It was restored in June and is up for auction. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made 200 of these computers.

The auction will be held by RR Auction where you can register to bid on this item. The auction begins September 25, 2018 at 1:00 PM ET. You can bid by phone or online at https://www.invaluable.com/

Tech Mystery Box

$250 for $1,932 worth of tech! So the Victor crew came across this YouTube video of someone opening up 2 boxes filled with tech returns to Amazon. It shows him unboxing 2 big boxes of tech products from Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, headphones, car speakers, and a lot of other miscellaneous products. Some of the items were clearly used and ready for the trash but some could be resold on eBay or Craig’s list. Some items were worth more than the $250 he spent on it.

So we were wondering how to purchase something like this. It turns out there are liquidators that get these types of items and sell them to people that go back and resell them again (even on Amazon). (See links below for more info.)

https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-amazon-customer-returns-pallets-online/
https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-resell-amazon-customer-return-pallets-electronics/

Traveling this summer?

If you have spent anytime in an airport, you see many people congregating by the outlets so they can charge their devices. Well, there seems to be some new pranks going around airports this year. People are putting fake outlet stickers in various places around the airport. Some of these outlet stickers even have a worn-out look to them.

Some people go even farther and put in fake outlet covers with double-stick tape.

You can see some people’s reactions to them on twitter.
Mashable has an article about it

Here is a YouTube video of a fake outlet for April Fools day

Here is one with fake outlet stickers:

Does Google know more than you want them to know?

Google services on Android or iPhones can store your location data, even when you try to prevent it through your device settings.

Google Maps can make a timeline of your movements, for example. It works so well that last year a warrant was served by police in North Carolina to Google to find devices near a murder scene. You can turn off your location history so the places you go will not be stored.

If you are logged into Google, go to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb to see your timeline or whether it is even on. You can turn the tracking of your history on or off here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols/location?hl=en&gl=US

This may not keep Google from tracking your movements through nearby towers but it is something more you can do to make it a little more difficult for them.

Source

Chrome browser

Did you know there are a lot more settings and pages to your Google Chrome browser than you find just in your settings? To find them just type into your address bar “chrome://about” (without the quote marks) and you will find a list of pages you can access.

You will find you are actually on the first page: chrome://about. If you click it there won’t be a change. chrome://chrome will give you the update page. Some of the other pages may or may not look familiar. I clicked on chrome://dino to see what that was – it’s the dinosaur you see when you don’t have an internet connection.

The chrome://flags page will allow you to access some experimental items; chrome://bookmarks will let you see all your bookmarks. Just use caution if you make any changes to the browser.

Vertical Videos

In the past, if you uploaded a video to YouTube with a video taken from your phone, you would see the black bars on either side of it with the video in the center, tall and slim. YouTube has conceded that vertical videos are here to stay and have adapted their site to accomodate them.

YouTube makes this move on the heels of Instagram introducing IGTV, a longer form of video you can create through Instagram or with their standalone app, IGTV. Instagram itself limits you to just one minute but IGTV allows you to make a video up to an hour long. Initially that will only be available to popular uploaders but will be rolled out to evveryone eventually.

Sources:
https://www.makeuseof.com
https://productforums.google.com/forum/

Chrome Extension: PassProtect

There is a Chrome extension to help you pick better passwords. It is called PassProtect by okta. It will tell you right away if your password is in a list of data breaches. It doesn’t necessarily mean your username/email and password combination are in that list but if your password is already in a list of compromised passwords, you might want to rethink that password. You can add it to your Chrome browser.

They do not store or collect any information from you, they simply use the HaveIBeenPwned.com API to check against the list of known breaches. If you want to check a password on your own, you can check it here as well manually to see if it is in the list of breached passwords, because it is the same list. Hackers that have collected passwords will often use them to breach a site and try to guess people’s logins and if you are using a password from a breached list, and they know your email or username, you may find yourself hacked.

PassProtect

Robot Guards

A company based in Singapore, Oneberry Technologies, has developed RoboGuard. If you need surveillance, you can get a robot to do it. You would still have to man the system and watch whatever the robot found but this is an interesting concept in robotics and in surveillance.

Keyboard fixes for MacBook and MacBook Pro

A few weeks ago, Apple announced it is finally offering to repair MacBook keyboards … for free. The problems they say they will cover are:
when letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
when letters or characters don’t appear
or when keys feel sticky and do not respond consistently

After examining the keyboard, the service type will be determined and they may replace a key, keys, or the entire keyboard.

Eligible models are MacBook 12-inch 2015, 2016, and 2017; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with two Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with four Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016, 2017. No other MacBooks are part of this service program.

If you have this problem, you can find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store, or mail your device to the Apple Repair Center. Be sure to back up all your data before you take any of these steps.

If you have previously paid to have this problem fixed and want a refund, you can contact Apple for a refund.

Here is a funny video about the problem:

Pepper the Robot

Pepper is a humanoid robot. It is able to recognize emotions and interact with you. Pepper can move around, recognize your face, speak to you conversationally. Whether you dance or chat, Pepper is ready for you. Pepper is 1.2 meters tall.

Pepper is capable of performing customer service. He can interact with customers, help with appointments, direct to where they need to go.

Pepper is a product of SoftBank Robotics. He says she was born in Paris. SoftBank Robotics has offices in Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco and Shanghai. They also have previously developed a smaller robot called NAO about 58cm high.

With its open SDK you can enhance him as well.

Here is Tech Insider’s experience with him:

Here is SoftBank’s promo:

Find out more

Say Farewell to StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon has been around since the early 2000s. In the early days it was a fun site to just be taken to a random site. Until June 30, 2018, you can still do this. If you go there now, they will encourage you to Join Mix. Mix is a related service. You can join Mix with your Facebook or Google account or with an email address.

You can use StumbleUpon.com before it goes away this week. But you’ll have to remember your old login. Assuming you may have joined at one time and no longer use it.

How it worked is, you would go to StumbleUpon.com and join, then slick on a button to find a random cool webpage. The company that owns Mix.com, Expa, wants to take Mix.com to the next level and combine social and semantic personalization to the user experience. They want to make it easy to organize your content into collections. They will be transitioning StumbleUpon accounts over to Mix.

Some other companies under the Expa umbrella are Uber (driver service), Haus (helps you sell your own house and keep more of the money than through a broker), Prefer (a way to grow your business through referrals), Ando (food delivery service), Spot (a way to find things to do based on referals), Operator (a way to find what you are looking for). These are a few of Expa companies.