Category Archives: Tech

YouTube Red and Google Play Music

I am in the midst of changing over from Spotify (which I’ve been a big fan of over the years) to Google Music, and while only a day or two in I already have some thoughts on it.

While Google Play Music is the same price as Spotify, the benefits are seemingly much greater…the only downside I can see is the “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify offers which gives a great view into new songs similar to those I already like.

Google Music gives a lot of the same features, such as a large library of music, no advertisements, and the familiar ability to download songs for offline play.
On top of this Google also allows you to upload 50,000 of your own clips to the library, which in my case means a resting place for the tens of hours of “Abbott and Costello” that I have saved on a hard drive.

But the real deal is that Google Music also gives access to YouTube Red (which if revenue is Google’s goal (it is) will get split off at some point) and a variety of perks including:

  • Offline Playback: You can download movies for offline viewing, which when riding the subway or just being in places with no Internet, and watch it as you’d like. Yesterday I absorbed some music videos and sports talk TV while drowning out the NYC dregs of the subway.
  • Minimizing YouTube on a phone: So you’re watching a music video and you get a WhatsApp message…the ultimate dilemma…do I go respond to the message, or do I stay here and finish my video?
    Well, on Android Nougat you can just reply from the notification bar…but putting that aside for a second, you can now switch to another app or even shut off your screen entirely and you’re watching videos on YouTube.
  • Exclusives: YouTube has signed some of its top stars to make content just for them, as well as some of YouTube’s own content…one example that I am looking forward to?
    Today’s release of “Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough”, a look into Lindsey’s life as she prepares for shows, battles through tough times off the stage, and of course the electricity that flows when she is performing on stage.

Gear VR With Controller #Review

Just over a year ago I talked about my first VR headset, the Google Cardboard.
Well now I have a newer, more costly, VR headset: The Gear VR with Controller.

The Gear VR is an Oculus piece of technology, and they’ve always been ahead of the VR game, and this one is no exception.

The Gear VR is very comfortable to wear, even with a pair of glasses on, using straps around the back and over the top of the head, as well as thick cushioning all around. It also has a dial that allows you to adjust the depth (bringing the screen into focus, important when wearing glasses).

With previous editions, you had to use the touchpad on the side of the device to select items or scroll thru, but with the new controller, the world is in your hands, letting apps give you a “trigger” to help with a lot of games (or simply choosing your movie of choice).

From elaborate depth in games (such as “Land’s End”) to comfortable settings to watch movies (Netflix, Hulu, or even Google Movies via YouTube), or just using your hands to help you build things (such as models in Monzo VR).

Meanwhile, the Google Cardboard would make me a little dizzy after a few minutes (maybe because I was using a hand to hold it to my face), but I don’t feel that effect with the Gear VR.
I’ve also taken their advice and will use it sitting in a revolving chair, that allows me free spinning, and no neck turning, also minimizing dizziness.

Oculus, together with their new owners Facebook, provide a space to play games with friends, building virtual rooms to sit in with your created characters.

The Gear VR + Controller came free with a Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and compatible with the S8, S7, and S6 lines, and the Note5
If you are looking to get it it’ll set you back $130. If you already have the Gear and just want the controller, it’s just a $40 expense.

Buying/Renting Movies Online

When you go to watch a legitimate movie on digital, you are presented with many options, from Apple’s library to Amazon Prime and Vudu to Crackle.

But the biggest issue is: After you “buy” or “rent” the movie, where can you watch it?

If you bought it from Apple, you are stuck to watching it on an iPad, iPhone or Apple TV.
Bought it on Amazon, and you turn to the Prime Video app on iOS, Android, Xbox, Etc.
Similar for Vudu and Crackle.

But recently I started using a different service, one that we all use tens of times a week, but don’t think about.

Google Play Movies. The first thought is that these are only available in a browser or on Android devices.
But if you go to YouTube, log into your account, and visit your “Library”, your purchases all show up there for your viewing pleasure.

This means your iOS and Android devices, gaming systems (such as Xbox One and PS4), as well as your WiFi enabled DVD/Blu-Ray players can all access these videos.
Even devices that don’t allow app downloads, but have a built-in browser, can get to YouTube and access your purchased videos.

Now back to Rogue One and the bonus features…

Samsung Pay – Our Future is Here

Think about it for a second: For 50 years we used credit cards with magnetic strips, and in 2007 someone thought to use phones to pay for your charges.

They convinced some terminal operators to install “Tap to pay” options, using RFID (Radio-frequency identification) and/or NFC (Near field communication), to help progress how we make our payments.

But then Samsung entered the game with Samsung Pay, and said: “forget about tap to pay, let’s just use the magnet stripes again”. And suddenly, every Mom & Pop shop in America, who couldn’t afford to upgrade to “Tap to pay” were able to start accepting mobile payments.

Using MST (Magnetic Secure Transmissions) the phones send out a signal, that when held over the “swipe” part of a terminal, mimics the motions of a credit card so that new or old the terminal will still be able to send through the transaction.

For years we’ve taken technology and evolved it, and with it everyone has needed to buy new equipment. But what if we can evolve technology and still use the infrastructure that is in place across America?
Seems ideal to me.

Google Home + WiFi

Three weeks ago I brought up the point that Google should combine “Home” with “WiFi”.

It just made no sense to me for them to be two separate devices.

Well it looks like recent Google patents have them combined for Home 2.0, and that might be the cue for consumers to buy it.

Imagine that you have a device that can answer all your questions, play all your music, and has the ability to give you a better WiFi signal in that room.
It’d also make for speedier searches, as instead of looking to connect for a signal, it should always have its internal connection as an internet hub.

Creating That Digital Noise

As more service providers (ISPs) move to selling every bit of your data, people are getting frustrated that the advertisers will learn everything about them.

With that in mind, people may want to start feeding fake data to the ISPs, and Noiszy is here to help you.

They help create clutter to mislead people into what you are really doing. The browser plugin, when turned on, will visit random websites, and click on random links and articles, keeping your watchers busy.

Now don’t worry, they won’t be going to anything frowned upon, in fact, it’s a preapproved list of sites, which you can edit, and watch as it browses through.

With all this fake data, it makes your persona harder to read, harder to sell advertising for, and harder for them to sway your mind on political matters.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is now rolling out to more phones, replacing the typical Google search bar and voice commands.

With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks to try with your fancy new tech toy:

  • “OK Google” – Those two magic words will wake it up and bring the assistant to life.
  • Go thru the settings and customize it to your favorite sites
    • Home Control: Connect that smart house to your Assistant so that she can flip those switches off as you go to bed.
    • News: Sort through which news sources you trust most, and which ones you want to hear from more frequently.
    • My Day: Let Assistant know what to include in your daily summary.
    • Shopping List: This feature utilizes Google Keep
  • All valid practical commands for Google Assistant:
    • Play Bohemian Rhapsody on Spotify
    • Watch Family Guy on Netflix
    • Did the TrailBlazers win last night?
    • Wake me at 8:15
    • What time is my flight?
    • Call Prince Al-Waleed (must have the Prince’s number in your contacts first)
    • Show me pictures of my car
    • Take a selfie
    • Turn on flashlight
  • Bored? Let it entertain you, just say “I’m bored” and it’ll provide the following (or you can ask for them directly):
    • Tell me a joke
    • Play a game
    • Play trivia
    • What have I got in my pocket?
  • “Sing Happy Birthday” and she’ll do it in the right tune…no more Aunt Edna croaking it out.
  • Have some fun and tell Google Assistant: “I’m feeling lucky”