Tag Archives: Tech

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.

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.

Why APB Is Destined To Fail

APB on Fox is a decent show, don’t let its badness fool you. But at the end of the day, they just try too hard.

The tech is insanely cool, and when the robot overlords take over the world, we will have plenty to look forward to.
And while the tech will make me turn on the show week after week, at the end of the day this needs to turn into a good cop show…and it just isn’t.

Every episode introduces a new tech toy that is imaginative, but it isn’t a sustainable model. After a while, you will run out of toys, or start making things that are just too far beyond reality and just become a “sci-fi show” instead of an “advanced reality”. With the bar set so high for new stuff, it’ll just be unable to continue.

The best tech character Ada (played by Caitlin Stasey) isn’t the lead female, and the actual male lead Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) is a rightfully overconfident rich man who is too cocky for a two-hour movie, let alone putting the audience through him week after week.
Meanwhile, lead Detective Murphy (Natalie Martinez) makes every episode feel like a tragic love story that is destined for her getting killed and Gideon going off on the bad guys, and that is in no way her fault, but rather the results of poor writing.

This show needs a direction, and like most successful dramas, needs a clear overall arching storyline that will keep the standard, non-techie, viewers coming back for more episodes…but the time is running out and this show seems headed for the recycling bin.

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”

Go aWaze

About a year ago I figured out why Waze didn’t work well for me, but like a glutton for punishment, I always try things again to see what else can go wrong.
And Waze didn’t fail me.

For starters, signing in without Facebook was more of a hassle than it needed to be (and the amount of apps that require Facebook activation these days is ridiculous, but that’s another story), but thankfully I’ve gotten Google SmartLock straightened out for the next adventure.

For a map app, they are pretty bad at giving directions…not offering the shortest or fastest routes. This is proven by actually driving (the same routes I took every day) and was originally given to me by Google Maps, and getting there ahead of their “estimated time of arrival” on the original route.
Now some may argue that “the time changes as you drive”…and I’ll argue with: Google Maps is spot on 95%+ of the time on their initial “arrival time” guesstimation.

On that note, even though they are owned by the same company now, the maps from Waze are super clunky, they don’t look good, and aren’t ideal to look at while driving.
They don’t make it easy to see your future route and are insanely difficult to plan “alternate routes” on, especially since they don’t relay other times to you in the same ways that Google Maps does.

Lastly, they are a major drain on data plans. In three days of standard usage it drained through 50% of the data that Google Maps did in 21 days of usage last month…at that rate it would use 350% of the data that I would use for a normal useful mapping system.